Friday, September 30, 2011

Purple Fountain Grass

Looking for some fall color?
Over the years, I have noticed a trend with decorative grass such as the Purple Fountain Grass. Some years it's extremely popular while in others, like last year, it wasn't sold as much. The trend has been to put bamboo into the landscape as it is green for most of the year while other grasses are not. The exception of course is Mondo Grass. There is also the fear that grass spreads fire(which it does). During this month of dry weather with a lightening strike here or there, it could become a potential danger. So many homeowners in the Tucson area may be hesitant to plant something near their home that could potentially become a fire hazard. If I were in the Foothills area, I'd be more cautious but here in the city, the threat isn't as great unless you have some idiot throwing a cigarrette onto your property. Several years ago before we owned our home here, I lived up in the Foothills and watched as the Mt. Lemon fire descended onto people's property slowly. It was a sight many of us will never forget. Plus grasses tend to seed in places unwanted, dry out during the winter, and sometimes get knocked over by our Tucson wind. While there are negatives to the grass family, there are also positives. One of the few grasses that I've enjoyed growing in my own garden is the Purple Fountain Grass. I use it as an accent and place in bright sun. Grass loves sun with some regular watering! It has a lovely appearance in pots and planters and adds a contrast to the green plants around it. So if you want a lovely grass, go ahead and get this gem. This is my opinion only, but I think it's a great grass used as an accent.....just don't mass plant this around your property. Fire season is not something to joke around with here in the Old Pueblo. Most fires caused during this time of year are from human smokers, campfires that weren't put out properly, or lightening. Sometimes controlled burns become uncontrolled. Smokers provoke an anger inside of me. They carelessly throw their cig butts out of their car window and on the interstate, a little heat can spark a flame faster than you can blink your eye. It's important to remember your surrounding environment when putting in plants. My recommendation is to keep the grass out of potential areas where people can throw their cigarrette butts. I deal with this on a daily basis. Some neighbors throw their cigs into planters or on the parking lot....because they are pigs. No, I take that back, pigs don't deserve that label with these "people". :) My suggestion, again, just my opinion, don't place grass in planters near heavy traffic areas. Okay, that's it on growing grass in the desert. Here is some info on the Purple Fountain Grass.....

"By Nikki Phipps
Fountain Grass
Fountain grass (Pennisetum) is a mound-forming ornamental grass and a garden favorite, as the care of fountain grass is easy. The cascading leaves on this plant have a fountain-like appearance. Clump-forming grasses grow in mounds or clumps, making them ideal for many areas without becoming invasive. It can be used alone as a specimen plant or in a border alongside other perennials. Fountain grass is an attractive perennial grass densely clumped growth. Blooming of its foxtail-looking flowers generally takes place from late summer through the fall. The small flowers of fountain grass are tan, pink or purple. During fall and throughout winter, this plant will also reward gardeners with spectacular foliage displays.

Types of fountain grass

There are different types of fountain grass to choose, ranging in size from 12 inches to 3 feet. One of the most common varieties is Dwarf Fountain Grass Hameln (P. alopecuroides ‘Hameln’). Its light tan blooms turn pinkish brown in fall. This fountain grass blooms earlier than the others, making it a great choice for gardens with shorter growing seasons. Purple Fountain Grass (P. setaceum) has both purple foliage and blooms. Used for its reddish foliage and showy flowers is Red Fountain Grass (P. setaceum‘Rubrum’), which grows about 3- 4 feet tall. Other types of fountain grass cultivars include ‘Cassian,’ ‘Little Bunny’, ‘Little Honey’, and ‘Moudry’.

Growing fountain grass

Growing fountain grass is easy. As with most ornamental grasses, fountain grass is extremely adaptable. Care of fountain grass is easy as well. It’s sometimes helpful to cut back the foliage in the spring prior to growth. Although not specifically a requirement for fountain grass, fertilizer can be applied as growth resumes in the spring. Established plants do not need regular watering, except during periods of drought. Fountain Grass does well nearly any type of soil; however, for greater results, fountain grass should be planted in fertile, well-drained soil. Fountain grass enjoys full sun but tolerates some light shade. Look for areas receiving full sun, as these plants prefer warm conditions. Warm-season grasses thrive in warmer temperatures ranging from 75 to 85 degrees F.

Transplanting fountain grass

Transplanting fountain grass is not always necessary; however, it can be dug up and divided in areas where overcrowding may occur or if more plants are simply desired. Division usually depends on spacing or visual appearance. For instance, plants suffering from die-out in the center can be divided to improve their appearance. Division can be performed in early spring prior to new growth or after the growing season in the late summer or fall. Taking care of fountain grass is a rewarding undertaking for a gardener. By growing fountain grass, you add a low maintenance option to your garden." End of article. Source:


  1. I love purple fountain grass. It didn't mind the heat this year as long as I watered it. I'm already planning to do more next year. I've tried various ways of overwintering it here with no luck. I buy a few in the spring and divide them into many plants.

  2. Lovely grass! Never knew grass could be so attractive!


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