Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’) is a regal addition to any landscape. It packs a one-two punch – first, with its purplish, burgundy-red foliage; second, by producing fluffy, purple flower spikes in the heat of summer. And if you enjoy attracting birds to your garden, this gem of a plant is also a botanical “bird feeder” ‘– the purple plumed flowers are a natural source of seeds that are irresistible to birds!
Designing with Ornamental Grasses 101
Purple Fountain Grass is classified as an ornamental grass, which adds an entirely new dimension to well-appointed landscapes with colors, sizes, shapes and textures that you can’t find in turfgrasses or even flowers.
Contrast and Complement
The foliage shapes and textures of ornamental grasses provide a contrast to the other plants in your landscape. The arching foliage of Purple Fountain Grass can soften the look of upright plants, while its rich purplish color complements the flowers around it. Consider planting yellow flowers around Purple Fountain Grass for a contrasting color pop in your garden, or use the softer shades of pink flowers for a complementary combination.
A Bright Focal Point
Plant Purple Fountain Grass to resemble a real water fountain, where you can enjoy its colorful, cascading foliage. Mulch lightly around it with pea gravel to mimic a dry pond around the faux fountain.
A single clump of some types of ornamental grass will command attention, but multiple clumps planted as a small hedge bump up the wow factor to a new level. Plant Purple Fountain Grass as a living screen that separates different garden areas or as a soft wall between you and your neighbors.
Edging for Flowerbeds and Islands
Ornamental grasses finish the look of flowerbeds and islands by defining their borders. Because Purple Fountain Grass may reach a height of 3 to 5 feet, use it to frame beds and islands that contain taller plants (large shrubs and trees).
Looks Great in Containers
For deck, patio or poolside containers, ornamental grasses add a unique design element – a taller plant that towers over shorter (filler) and trailing (spiller) plants. As a container plant, Purple Fountain Grass is versatile: Use it in a large container as part of a mixed planting or as a standalone plant in a container by itself. Find a glazed pottery container in a color that contrasts or complements Purple Fountain Grass to really show it off.
No Muss, No Fuss
Purple Fountain Grass is so easy to care for and it’s a fast grower, so there’s no waiting all season long for it to perform! Pick a sunny spot where this plant will put on its best show for you. After it’s established in your garden, you won’t need to water it very often. And you can forget about spraying for bugs or treating for diseases ‘– Purple Fountain Grass has no significant insect or disease problems!
Purple Fountain Grass is a perennial only in the warmer USDA hardiness zones of 9 and 10. If you live outside these zones, plant this ornamental grass as you would any other annual. But if you want to bring it inside for the winter, you can easily trim the foliage before the first fall frost, pot it up and move it indoors before setting it outside the following spring.