The most well known of the Pennisetums, Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’, commonly called Purple Fountain Grass, is the showiest of the genus, though all species are quite ornamental in form, texture, and coloring.
They are especially effective in mass plantings or drifts, or as a focal point in decorative containers. Not showing much growth until late spring, they are fine companions for early spring bulbs, filling in and covering the fading foliage of narcissus, crocus, and tulips. They also harmonize well with perennials and shrubs with contrasting leaf texture and flower color such as Rudbeckia, Sedum, Eryngium, Berberis, as well as most conifers and herbs.
The flower racemes of Pennisetums resemble foxtails, range in color from cream to deep purple, and are excellent for use in fresh or dried arrangements. Bloom time typically lasts June through September.
Zone 5-9, 1.5-2’ wide by 4-5’ tall. Clump forming, upright, perennial grass. Foliage turns rich gold with red tints in September. Flowers are dusky brown.
Zone 6-10, 2’ tall
Slightly shorter than the species with creamy white flowers and leaves turning gold in the fall.
Zone 6-10, 18” tall
A miniature with buff flowers into fall.
Zone 6-10, 2’ tall
A dwarf cultivar with purple to black flower heads. Prolifically reseeds if allowed to do so.
Rhizomateous perennial grass forming upright, arching clumps.
Zone 9-10, 2-3’ wide by 3-5’ tall
A clumping grass native to the tropics grown as an annual in temperate climes. Can not survive temperatures below 40 degrees F! All parts a rich red-burgundy color. Fast grower in full sun with ample water, blooming late summer to frost. Typically available spring and summer. Additional cultivars include ‘Burgundy Giant’, ‘Fireworks’, and ‘Little Red Ridinghood’.
Grasses are a great choice to add structure, color and movement to the garden.
Work them into any garden style as focal points or accents and you'll be delighted with their graceful ease.