- Oriental Fountain Grass
For maximum hardiness this plant should be grown in well-drained soil
and full sun. Light shade is acceptable, but only in the hottest climates.
Oriental Fountain grass will start to bloom by late June and will continue
until frost. Considered by some to be the most floriferous of all the
grasses. It even blooms for us the first year from plugs!
The multitude of 8-10 cm (3-4") flowers are nearly white with
a hint of pearlescent pink. Dividing this grass can be difficult, with
a high percentage of losses and should only be done in early Spring,
just as the new growth appears. When transplanting be sure the crown
of the plant isn't covered.
Many reference books list Pennisetum orientale
as a Zone 6 plant, but it seems to be quite hardy in Zone
5, as long as there is good snow cover. Planting on a slope
to improve drainage is recommended.
Good in containers.
Description: warm season*; clump forming
Foliage is green; narrow blade width; 30-70 cm (12-28") in height
Flowers are white; bloom in July through Sept; 40-100 cm (16-40") 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 (find your
zone; further info on plant hardiness)
Season of interest:
July to winter
Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once
every 2 weeks); further info
Native to: mountains of central and south-western
Asia to north-western India
Recommended spacing between plants: 50-90cm (20-36")
why such a difference?
When to divide: when it shows a good flush
of greenery 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)
*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 orientale to our other grasses
in this handy chart.