Fountain Grasses- a Stand Out

In fall, fountain grasses are a stand out.

And there are so many to choose from!

Fountain grass (Pennisetum sp.) is a graceful, DEER RESISTANT and sun loving ornamental grass with feathery plumes that persist into fall.

Its relatively small size makes it a great plant for containers, rock gardens, borders, massing or as a specimen.     Once established, they tolerate heat, humidity and full sun.

Johnsen Landscapes & Pools

Of course with all this wonderfulness there is a down side - certain fountain grasses are considered invasive, not all, but some.

 There is a lot of discussion on which varieties are invasive with people saying,  'This species is OK but that one isn't'. 

Some people, to be safe, don't buy any. I would counsel you to look in your area to see which ones are no nos.

Nonetheless, the dwarf fountain grass is a must for a sunny fall garden. Greenwood Nursery describes why this is so:

"Strolling in the garden in the fall and early winter,
after the grasses turn their great yellow fall color,
there is a calming effect when the slight winter breezes
create a gentle rustle in the spent grasses."

Here are some fountain grasses that make for a spectacular autumn landscape:

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Red Head'

A early-blooming cultivar of hardy fountain grass, Red Head begins blooming at summer's end and continues into late fall.

The plants grow to 3 - 4 feet high and wide which is a great size for a border or as a specimen.

 They have deep purple buds that mature to long lasting smoky-purple plumes, fully 8 inches long. And like all hardy Pennisetums, the blooms dry on the plant and make nice winter accents, catching the falling snow and rustling in the breeze. Zones 5-9. 

Prune back in early spring.

Looks great with Feather Reed Grass, Blue Mist Shrub (Caryopteris), Asters, Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Oriental Lily (Lilium ), Sedum and annual flowers.

Pennisetum purpureum  'Princess Molly' PPAF (Princess Molly Dwarf Fountain Grass)

This warm season pennisetum hybrid, from Dr. Wayne Hannah at the University of Georgia, is a dwarf plant that grows only 14 -20" tall with unique foliage.

The olive green leaves are bordered with purple, and highlighted with a dark black-purple stripe down the leaf center. Pennisetum 'Molly' is a great red purple accent plant for the summer and fall garden. It works well in smaller landscapes. Plants will not flower except in total frost-free areas. ANNUAL except in Zones: 8-10

'Prince' Pennisetum purpureum (USPP18,509)

Another warm season ornamental grass is the semi dwarf 'Prince' Pennisetum which showcases purple foliage that intensifies in summer heat. At 5- 6 ft tall, it is the perfect highlight in the back of a border or large container.

ANNUAL except in zones 8 - 11

Pennisetum purpureum Princess (PP 17,728)

The warm season fountain grass 'Princess' does not bloom but its deep purple foliage is stunning in combination with summer-blooming perennials. It is 2' - 3' tall. Plant it in a mixed border with asters and hardy mums to finish the season with a flourish. 

A Proven Winners® variety. ANNUAL except in in Zones 8-11

Pennisetum orientale Karley Rose

Oriental fountain grass is a hardy, small bunch grass with a beautiful inflorescence that is unusually long lasting. 

Pennisetum 'Karley Rose' is 24" to 36" tall and provides 5 months of color, texture, motion in a sunny site.

 The heavy rose-pink blooms literally glow when lit from behind by early morning or late afternoon sun.

The pink flowers make perfect companion to Coneflowers, Knock Out Roses and Sedums. This fountain grass is not invasive and self-seeds only sparingly in the garden. 

Zones 5 - 9. Prune back in early spring.


  1. Everything lovely, it is hard to chose to be my favorite.

  2. Very nice article.
    Looks very beautiful, Thanks for sharing.


Post a Comment

Hi there! I would love to hear from you....

Popular Posts of all Time

Angelface Blue and Dark Violet Angelonia - a Flower that Keeps Giving

Planting Design for Dry Gardens by Olivier Filippi

'Purple Smoke' - The best Baptisia

No-Fail Tips for Turning Hydrangeas Blue!

Repurposed and Recycled - Creative Ideas for Garden Design

The Magnificent Purslane - Edible Landscaping at its best!

My one day Class Wednesday April 16 in NY - Jan Johnsen

The Tradition of Hanami - Cherry Blossom Viewing in Japan