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Plant of the Week: Purple Fountain Grass

The graceful, arching plumes of purple fountain grass last throughout the summer and fall.
The graceful, arching plumes of purple fountain grass last throughout the summer and fall.
Shawna Kennedy

The long arching leaves of this ornamental grass are purplish-green and almost hidden in the summer by scores of nodding, purplish-bronze plumes. Although there are dwarf varieties available, the full sized plant grows in a slowly spreading clump that reaches 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It’s adaptable to a wide range of soils in full sun and is drought-tolerant and heat-tolerant, even in Fresno summers.

The inflorescence, or plumes, last from mid-summer until the first frost. Cut, these fuzzy, incredibly soft plumes last for weeks in floral arrangements and can even be dried.

Although it’s an annual in cooler parts of the country, in Fresno, this fountain grass is perennial, requiring very little maintenance throughout the year.

When the foliage begins to fade in the autumn, it turns an attractive golden-bronze that will last until spring. However, for a neat appearance, cut this ornamental grass down to about 12 inches tall by December. In March or April, depending on the weather, you will see new leaves appearing through the old foliage.

The dwarf variety of this plant grows to 30 inches tall and is ideal for smaller containers or along a path in your garden.

Plant purple fountain grass near a water features such as a pond or a pool. Even the full-sized plants are successful grown in containers and placed on your patio or porch. This plant is suitable to a xeriscaped, or low water, garden.

Purple fountain grass is a low-maintenance, beautiful addition to your Fresno garden.
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  • Nancy 4 years ago

    Lovely perennial. Is this grass easy to contain? Often it seems that ornamental grasses are quite hardy, and it can be difficult to prevent their taking more than their fair share.

  • Shawna Kennedy 4 years ago

    I've tried to post this several times, but it keeps telling me there is questionable language... I swear, there's not! Yes, easy to contain. I've had mine in the same location for 5 years. Only this year thinking maybe I should thin.

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