- Fountain Grass
Fountain grass can develop into an imposing mound of gracefully arching
foliage and flowers, but it is never invasive in colder climates. Regardless
of size, this form exhibits fine textured foliage with soft to-the-touch
inflorescences. The bottlebrush-like seedheads are enjoyed long after
many other garden plants have faded, persisting well into the winter
Be warned that Fountain grass needs a long growing season to bloom
well. In our Zone 5 area in the very south of British Columbia, that
means we need to have an early Spring with an Indian Summer.
Description: warm season*; clump forming
Foliage is green; 10 mm (3/8") wide; 60-100 cm (24-40") in height
Flowers in August through Sept; 100-150 cm (40-60") tall
Ideal conditions: full sun to light shade; moist,
well-drained soil; will grow in any soil except those that are poorly
Coldest zone: 5, possibly colder (may
not bloom if the growing season is short) (find
your zone; further info on plant hardiness)
Season of interest: August to winter
Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once
every 2 weeks); further info
Native to: meadows and open woods, alongside streams
of Eastern Asia and Australia
Recommended spacing between plants: 60-90 cm (24-36")
why such a difference?
When to divide: when it shows signs of
life in the spring, continuing until the new growth is about
12" tall; only in the spring (further
info on dividing grasses)
When to plant or transplant: plant bare root plants
only in late spring to early summer, when the soil
is warm, about the same time you plant your bean or corn
seeds. The roots will grow only in warm soil. Planting too
early in the spring may cause the roots to rot. Similar
story in the fall when the roots may not grow enough to
establish before the cold and wet of winter, resulting in
the demise of the plant.
When to cut back: before the new growth
starts to appear, but after the cold weather is over. Cut
back to about 3-4" from the crown of the plant.
Pronunciation: Pennisetum (pen-ih-SEE-tum) alopecuroides
*a warm season grass likes to grow in warm weather. Before it will
show signs of life in the spring, the soil must warm up, and be warm
for possibly as long as two weeks.
Compare Pennisetum alopecuroides to our other grasses
in this handy chart.