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(PPAF) = Propagation of this plant prohibited without a license.

Hardiness Zone Map


Pennisetum

Pennisetum

Fountain Grass

The soft inflorescences take their name from the Latin words penna and seta meaning feather-bristle. This alluring grass is a favorite, distinguished by arching, feathery bottlebrush flowers spilling over a cascading mound of foliage. A warm season grower, Fountain Grass welcomes hot weather and is widely distributed in both tropical and temperate areas.

Standing taller than most alopecuroides species, this spectacular Kurt Bluemel selection has a lot to brag about beside its inherent good looks: no stray seedlings, exceptional vigor and reliable longevity. Narrow green foliage defines the large upright fountain-shaped clump that’s topped with a fuzzy 5 ft. high gathering of tan-colored inflorescences. Aptly named, ‘Foxtrot’ dances to the slightest breeze with late-blooming perennial cohorts such as Phlox ‘Jeana’, Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ and Gaura ‘White Heron’.

Blooms late July–October

Size: 5' 0" high x 4' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 5.

Honoring German horticulturist Cassian Schmidt, this graceful midsized Kurt Bluemel selection sparks our interest through 3 seasons. Its compact fluid form sets the stage for fawn-colored bristle-like cylinders that softly linger just above elegant foliar blades. In a grand finale of arresting warmth, the autumnal leaves celebrate lavish gilded highlights and red hues, which earn ‘Cassian’ a front row seat in our mixed border.

Blooms August–October

Size: 3' 0" high x 2-1/2' – 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

Its compact habit and finely textured foliage make this one of the most popular Pennisetum cultivars. More darkly hued than most Pennisetum alopecuroides, the foliar mound is very upright and dome-shaped, playing host to the plump, slightly curved and creamy green flower heads that arch at least a foot aloft. Alighting on wiry slender stems held by fanlike sheaves, the fuzzy inflorescences bloom earlier than the species.

To heighten the garden drama, let ‘Hameln’ anchor a riot of Asters and Nepetas.

Blooms late July – October

Size: 2' 0" – 2-1/2' high x 2-1/2' wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

<i>Pennisetum alopecuroides</i> ‘Moudry’

Flowing with fairly wide, glossy deep green foliage, ‘Moudry’ forms a burnished, tidy-looking basal mound. The captivating bushy spikes resemble large dense foxtails, as they rise on stiff stalks just above lush deciduous leaves, which color to yellow and orange come autumn. Second-to-none among ornamental grasses, the fuzzy blooms impart dark purple-black shades, and make phenomenal cut flowers, fresh or dried. Introduced by the National Arboretum from a batch of Japanese seeds, fall-blooming Black Fountain Grass is unbeatable for its late season appeal in the landscape.

Blooms September–November

Size: 2' 0" high x 2' 0" – 2-1/2' wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

If you are looking for a perfectly sized Pennisetum that’s loaded with fluffy blooms and doesn’t require much care, this new cultivar may be your answer. Though ‘Piglet’ is small-statured, about half the size of Pennisetum ‘Hameln’, it’s certainly not the runt of the litter, growing taller and more substantial than ‘Little Bunny’. Easy to tuck into a tight, well-drained space amid Aster asperulus and Astrantia ‘Buckland’, it’s long-lived, fine textured green foliage supports a light-as-air profusion of cylindrical tawny-colored blooms. (pp#19,074)

Blooms August–October

Size: 18" high x 18" – 2' 0" wide.

Zone 5/6.

Selected by Intrinsic Perennials’ owner, Brent Horvath, ‘Red Head’ bolsters wondrous quantities of deep purple buds and huge, furry bottlebrush-like muted violet plumes, some 9 in. long and 3 in. wide. The stylish long lasting inflorescences appear earlier than most alopecuroides above a rounded arching green fountain. Projecting a tailored appearance throughout the season, which brightens autumn with golden yellow hues, this Pennisetum ‘National Arboretum’ offspring can be planted in drifts for kinetic drama or utilized as a marvelous color-rich specimen amid perennials.

Blooms September–November

Size: 4' 0" high x 4' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 5.

Described by a definitive architectural silhouette, this possible Pennisetum incomptum seedling sprung up in the Pomona Nursery of noted grass enthusiast, John Greenlee. Erect, light pink tapering “tails” on upright stems attain delightful deep wheat colors when mature, appearing somewhat denser and not as airy as other Pennisetum species. The attractive semievergreen clump of refined gray-green blades withstands both heat and drought, and brings prominent vertical elements to Stipa gigantea’s more relaxed habit or a low growing drift of Sesleria ‘John Greenlee’.

Blooms June–October

Size: 3' 0" – 5' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Zone 7/8.

<i>Pennisetum massaicum</i> ‘Red Buttons’ <i>Pennisetum massaicum</i> ‘Red Buttons’

The species inhabits the wide open savannas of Africa, and this distinctive red flowered cultivar will flourish in your garden, given a well-drained sunny locale. Waving bushy, warm-colored inflorescences that eventually lighten to a creamy tan, the delicate slender stems rise high above graceful mounds of broad maroon-tinted green blades. Long-blooming ‘Red Buttons’ can be featured as a stellar addition to floral arrangements, as a container subject or a mixed border specimen, abiding hot dry conditions, but not terribly cold winters.

Blooms July – September

Size: 2' 0" – 3' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

<i>Pennisetum orientale</i> <i>Pennisetum orientale</i>

A dense, rounded clump of narrow arching leaves explodes into long blooming, fuzzy, copper-pink flower spikes, exquisite in large drifts or contrasted with broad-leafed perennials, like Helenium ‘Zimbelstern’. Backlight this grass and enjoy a fountain of color and youth.

Blooms June–October.

Size: 12" – 2' 0" high x 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

Vastly superior to the species, ‘Karley Rose’ heralds darker, larger and longer lasting blooms, deeper green leaves and improved winter hardiness. A bevy of full pouffy inflorescences, painted in hazy rose-purple shades, flows from a uniform, dense, arching base that exudes elegance, bestows bright yellow autumn color and needs little attention. Well-loved by garden designers, flower arrangers and birds, this outstanding Pennisetum orientale sport was discovered by David Skwat at Sunny Border Nursery and named for his daughter. (pp#12,909)

Blooms June–October

Size: 3' 0" high x 2-1/2' wide.

Zone 5/6.

<i>Pennisetum orientale</i> ‘Tall Tails’

Vigorous and heat-loving, and much larger than the species, this bushy Pakistani cultivar has a 3 to 4 ft. vase-like clump of green foliage, with wonderfully whitish “tails” touched by a muted pink ascending a full foot higher. Giant Fountain Grass makes a compelling ingredient in the mixed border, especially with tall Achilleas and Angelica gigas nearby. .

Blooms June–October

Size: 5-1/2' high x 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

<i>Pennisetum spathiolatum</i>

A denizen of South Africa, this drought tolerant evergreen grass has low growing, narrow dark green blades that provide a verdant contrast to its tawny colored tapers. The dense, abundantly produced inflorescences hover on jointed nearly invisible stems, some 2 to 3 ft. tall, while fashioning a delightful see-through veil.

Especially mesmerizing when grouped in a dry creek bed, a meadow or a water wise garden, the Slender Veldt Grass asks only for a well drained abode.

Blooms June – October

Size: 3' 0" – 4-1/2' high x 2' 0" wide.

Zone 6/7.

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Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Current Staff's Favorite Plant

Our featured plant: Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora ‘Honey Angels’

Colorful Crocosmias, Be Awed by your August garden, Saturday Strolls!

Click here to view our Late August 2019 Newsletter!

Colorful Crocosmias!

Crocosmias pack a punch of late summer color as our gardens transition into autumn. Their clustered tubular flowers populate the ends of gracefully arching spikes, which emerge from handsome sword-like foliage. Ranging from yellow, peach and orange to fiery red, their prismatic shades look exceptional with white flowering perennials such as Phlox ‘David’, Selinum wallichianum and Aster ‘Bridal Veil’, as well as the blue blossoms of Aconitum, Agapanthus ‘Storm Cloud’ or Aster ‘Twilight’. For fun you could create a hot border, blending them with Kniphofia, Helenium, Salvia and even other Crocosmia, plus be sure to include some in your next bouquet. Commonly referred to as Montbretia and hardy to Zone 6, they appreciate, good drainage, adequate water and some shade in scorching summer sun. Please feel free to check out our extensive collection of Crocosmia cultivars in the perennial section of our online catalog.

YES, it’s possible to be in awe of your late August garden….

At this point in the season, some areas in our gardens may appear a tad worn or lackluster. If you haven’t already done so, you may wish to cut back a few tired looking perennials, such as the Nepetas or Geraniums, so you can enjoy a fresh flourish of growth plus more blooms. Adequate moisture and an additional application of compost will also ensure late summer vigor. Incorporating plants that provide a bounty of flowers and alluring leaves in August and September helps buoy our spirits, and hopefully even inspire a little awe as we approach fall. Though the plants featured in this newsletter either promote a bold statement or possess more refined aspects, they equally caught my eye and made me pause to take a closer look. Perhaps they’ll spark a wondrous moment for you as well. All of us Digging Dog plant wranglers wish you Happy Digging!

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