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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. 

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

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.

Adored by birds, floral designers and grass enthusiasts, a plethora of long, thick, dark reddish purple blooms softens ‘Ginger Love’s graceful mounding habit. The substantial bottlebrush-like inflorescences put on a fluffy late summer gala above narrow flowing green blades that signal autumn with warm coppery-bronze hues. This Intrinsic Perennial Gardens’ introduction develops a smaller clump than Pennisetum ‘Red Head’ and can be readily nudged into plantings where space is a premium, lending textural accents to containers, rockeries, mixed borders and water garden peripheries. (pp#26,442)

 

Blooms August–October

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

Zone 5/6.

Its compact habit and fine textured foliage make this one of the most popular Pennisetum cultivars. The foliar mound is very upright and dome-shaped, hosting blades that are darker than most Pennisetum alopecuroides. Appearing earlier than others in the species, a slew of plump woolly, slightly curved, creamy green flower heads, arching at least a foot aloft, are borne on wiry slender stems. To heighten your 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.

<i>Pennisetum</i> ‘Fairy Tails’

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 7b/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.

Springing forth as a gilded sport of Pennisetum ‘Gelbstiel’ in Jan Spruyt’s Belgian nursery, this splendid rounded Fountain grass boasts a Midas touch. Neat compact foliage transmutes golden springtime tones that mature to chartreuse, then transform to light green once summer’s heat takes hold. The no-fuss small-sized clump packs a wallop of bling for containers or space-thrifty niches, while fluffy tail-style khaki-colored plumes perched on 2 ft. tall stalks add blithe appeal. (pp#27,435)

Blooms August–October

Size: 2' 0" high x 2' 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: Athyrium ‘Ghost’

Feathery-fine ferns, Refresh your summer border, Summer Shipping!

Characterized by delicate-looking fronds...

the deer-proof ferns, which are featured above, unfurl spritely new fiddleheads every spring. All are deciduous save for the lustrous Polystichum, otherwise known as Tassel Fern. Varying shades of green, metallic silver, russet, bronze and burgundy imbue their artful foliage. Second-to-none for shady alcoves, these easy-care perennials can be planted as specimens or grouped in shade gardens, mixed borders and woodland settings. Their filigree-fine features lend sophisticated accents to patio containers or cut arrangements. Ferns will flourish in cool , well-drained moist nooks enriched with compost or well-rotted manure.  

Refresh your summer plantings...

During the month of July, gardeners sometimes wonder how they can perk up their summer gardens. Sunshine-hued blooms, golden leaves and crisp white flowers lend lively accents. They can be sprinkled amid a mixed border, perennial bed or other plantings, melding well with flowers that include a broad color spectrum from blue-violet to purple and lilac, as well as clear pink and darker rose hues.  

Apart from adding more plants, there are a few simple maintenance techniques that will help your garden maintain a fresh appearance during the summer. The addition of a chipped-bark mulch or well-rotted compost early in the season, not only reduces water requirements throughout the warmer months, but promotes vigorous growth and peppy-looking foliage. Many perennials, such as Nepetas and Geraniums, can be trimmed in June or July. This midseason cut back ensures a tidy stature and more blooms, often all the way ‘til frost.

We hope some of the plants in this newsletter spark some interest and beckon you to dig them into that empty spot in your garden.  

 

 

 

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