Purple fountain grass may offer contrasting form and texture, as well as movement, to your landscape with its flowing fountain shape, colorful leaves, and bottlebrush plumes throughout the summer and autumn. Its big plumes dance in the air and soar over the clumping grass. This fast-growing plant takes minimal care and is resistant to deer.
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’
Purple fountain grass
9 to 11, grown as an annual in colder climates
3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide
Full sun to partial shade
Medium, consistent water throughout growing season
Burgundy-red leaves, bottlebrush-like spikes of burgundy-purple flowers
July to October
Diseases and Pests:
No serious insect or disease problems.
PLANTING & CARE
When to Plant:
Planting in the autumn should be done at least a month before the usual first frost.
While purple fountain grasses can endure dry circumstances and are drought resistant, they will look their best with frequent watering.
Purple fountain grass should be clipped back to a few inches above the ground in late winter or early spring before new growth starts to promote a robust and healthy plant in places where it is cultivated as a perennial. Fountain grass gets brown and dry in winter, making it very combustible, thus cutting it short reduces the risk of a fire.
Purple fountain grass makes a bold impression wherever it is used:
- Foundation plant for a larger grouping
- Alone as a specimen
- Accent in perennial beds and borders
- Alone or as a centerpiece for a container
- In a desert or rock garden
- Ground cover
- Erosion control, median strips, and parking lot boundaries
IS PURPLE FOUNTAIN GRASS INVASIVE?
Some varieties of pennisetums will readily self-seed and become invasive in the warmer areas where they are grown as perennials. However, according to Missouri Botanical Garden, “‘Rubrum’, sometimes commonly called purple or red fountain grass, is a burgundy-red leaved cultivar that is not invasive under any circumstances because, unlike the species, it rarely sets seed.” However, be careful if you grow several cultivars together because with cross-pollination, you might get viable seed.
Other colorful non-invasive ornamental grasses:
‘Fireworks’ (variegated red fountain grass) has bright, red and green variegated leaves with purple tassels and is slightly smaller than ‘Rubrum’. ‘Sky Rocket’ has green and white striped foliage with white plumes, and is also slightly smaller than ‘Rubrum’.