Foxtail plant is a common name for a variety of grasses in the genus Setaria. These plants are named for their characteristic bristly seed heads that resemble the tail of a fox and found in many regions around the world including North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. In this article we will discuss detail about how to grow and care for Foxtail plant

Plant Description

Foxtail plants are annual or perennial grasses that grow in clumps or tufts. They have narrow, flat leaves that are usually hairless or sparsely hairy. The seed heads are cylindrical and densely packed with tiny, bristly seeds that are often barbed. These seeds can become lodged in the fur, clothing, or skin of animals, causing irritation and sometimes infection.

Some species of foxtail plant are used for forage or as ornamental plants, while others are considered weeds that can invade agricultural fields, pastures, and other natural habitats. Control measures for foxtail weeds include mechanical removal, herbicides, and cultural practices such as crop rotation and proper land management.

Common Name 

The common name of foxtail plant refers to several grass species in the genus Setaria. The common name “foxtail” is derived from the characteristic bristly seed head of the plant, which resembles the tail of a fox. Some common species of foxtail plant include green foxtail (Setaria viridis), yellow foxtail (Setaria glauca), and giant foxtail (Setaria faberi).

Botanical Name

The botanical name of foxtail plant is Setaria. It is a genus of grasses in the Poaceae family, which includes many other important agricultural and forage grasses. Within the Setaria genus, there are many species commonly referred to as foxtail, such as Setaria viridis (green foxtail), Setaria glauca (yellow foxtail), and Setaria faberi (giant foxtail).

Grow And Care

Here are some general guidelines for caring for foxtail plants:

  • Soil:

Foxtail plants prefer well-draining soil with moderate fertility. Soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.5.

  • Water:

Foxtail plants require regular watering during the growing season, especially in hot and dry conditions. However, be careful not to overwater, as excess moisture can lead to root rot.

  • Fertilizer:

Foxtail plants may benefit from occasional applications of a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

  • Pruning:

If you are growing foxtail plants as ornamental grasses, you can trim them back in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges.

  • Pest and Disease Control:

Foxtail plants can be susceptible to various pests and diseases, such as grasshoppers, cutworms, and rust. Monitor your plants regularly and take appropriate measures if you notice any problems.

  • Harvesting:

If you are growing foxtail plants for agricultural purposes, harvest them when the seed heads have matured and turned brown. Proper timing of harvest can ensure high-quality forage or seed production.

It’s always a good idea to do some research on the specific species of foxtail plant you are growing to ensure proper care and maintenance.


Here are some basic guidelines for each method:

  • Seeds: Foxtail plants produce seeds in their characteristic bristly seed heads. To propagate by seeds, collect mature seed heads in the fall when they have turned brown and dry. Remove the seeds from the seed heads and store them in a cool, dry place until spring. In the spring, plant the seeds in well-draining soil and keep them moist until they germinate.
  • Division: Foxtail plants can also be propagated by dividing established clumps. Dig up the clump in the spring or fall and separate it into smaller sections using a sharp knife or spade. Make sure each section has some roots and new shoots. Replant the divided sections in well-draining soil and water thoroughly.


Here are some common usages of foxtail plant:

  • Forage: Some species of foxtail plant are used as forage for livestock, such as cattle, horses, and sheep. Foxtail plants are high in protein and digestible fiber, making them a valuable source of nutrition for animals.
  • Food: In some cultures, foxtail plant seeds are used for human consumption. The seeds can be ground into flour, which can be used to make porridge, bread, and other food products.
  • Ornamental Grass: Many species of foxtail plant are grown as ornamental grasses in gardens and landscaping. They add texture and movement to landscapes with their distinctive seed heads.
  • Soil Stabilization: Foxtail plants can be used for erosion control and soil stabilization. Their deep root systems help to prevent soil erosion and improve soil structure.
  • Medicinal Use: Foxtail plant seeds are used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including digestive issues, diarrhea, and inflammation.
  • Weed Control: While some species of foxtail plant are beneficial, others can be invasive and compete with desirable crops and plants. In this case, foxtail plants are often targeted for weed control efforts.

Overall, foxtail plants have several valuable uses and are an important part of many ecosystems. Happy Gardening…


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