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How To Grow and Care for Dwarf Fountain Grass?

Pennisetum alopecuroides

Discover the whimsical world of Dwarf Fountain Grass – a pint-sized wonder that adds a touch of enchantment to any garden.

From their delicate plumes to their vibrant colors, you’ll soon be captivated by the allure of these miniature botanical marvels.

As you embark on this green adventure, let us guide you through the secrets of growing and caring for these mesmerizing plants.

What Is Dwarf Fountain Grass?

Dwarf fountain grass is a species of perennial grass with the scientific name Pennisetum alopecuroides (L.) Spreng.

It belongs to the Poaceae family, which includes other plants such as wheat, rice, and bamboo.

Appearance and Characteristics

Dwarf fountain grass has a graceful and spreading habit, growing 2-3 ft (60-90 cm) tall and 1-2 ft (30-60 cm) wide.

Its leaves are flat or folded, green in summer and golden yellow in fall.

Its flowers are bristly, bottle brush-like spikes that arch above the foliage like water spraying from a fountain.

They are silvery to pinkish-white in color and bloom from late summer to fall.

Popular Cultivars

Some of the most popular cultivars of dwarf fountain grass are: 

  • Cassian’s Choice‘: This variety has brown flowerheads flushed with pink.
  • Hameln‘: This variety has purplish flower heads and a compact form.
  • Red Head‘: This variety has dark red flower heads contrasting the green leaves.
Dwarf Fountain Grass Garden Design

Use Dwarf Fountain as a border plant along pathways, driveways, or fences. It will create a soft and graceful edge contrasting with the hard surfaces.

You can also use it as a container plant on patios, decks, or balconies. It will add height and movement to your outdoor living space.

How To Grow Dwarf Fountain Grass?

Dwarf fountain grass
Source: Wikimedia

Follow these guidelines to cultivate healthy and thriving plants.

Growing Conditions and Requirements

Dwarf fountain grass thrives in full sun to light shade as long as it gets at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.

It prefers moist but well-drained soil rich in organic matter and slightly acidic.

It also needs a sheltered position that protects it from strong winds and frost.

It can tolerate mild or coastal climates but not extreme cold or heat.

Planting Time and Method

The best time to plant dwarf fountain grass is between late summer and winter when the soil is still warm, and the plants can establish their roots before the next growing season.

You can plant dwarf fountain grass from seeds or divisions:

  • Seeds can be sown directly in the ground or started indoors in pots.
  • Divisions can be taken from mature plants in spring or fall.

Space the plants 18-24 inches (46-61 cm) apart to allow for their spread.

Watering and Fertilizing

Pennisetum alopecuroides
Source: Wikimedia

Dwarf fountain grass needs regular watering during the first year of growth, especially in hot and dry weather.

Water when the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil are dry, and avoid overwatering or letting the soil become soggy.

Dwarf fountain grass also benefits from a balanced fertilizer applied in spring and summer, following the label instructions.

Do not fertilize in fall or winter, as this can encourage new growth that may be damaged by frost.

Pruning and Mulching

Dwarf fountain grass should be pruned in late winter or early spring before the new growth emerges.

Cut the foliage back 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm) above the ground using sharp scissors or shears.

This will help the plant maintain its shape and vigor and prevent it from becoming too woody or floppy.

Dwarf fountain grass also appreciates a layer of organic mulch applied around the base of the plant, such as shredded bark, compost, or straw.

This will help conserve moisture, prevent weeds, and protect the roots from temperature fluctuations.

Possible Problems With Dwarf Fountain Grass

Dwarf fountain grass is a hardy and attractive plant, but it can still face potential problems, such as pests, diseases, and invasiveness.

Pests

Ornamental grasses such as dwarf fountain grass are usually resistant to most pests and animals, including deer and rabbits.

However, some insects, such as aphids and spider mites, may occasionally infest the plants.

These pests can cause distorted or yellowing leaves, webbing or speckling on the foliage, and reduced vigor.

To prevent and control these pests, inspect the plants regularly and spray them with insecticidal soap or neem oil if needed.

Diseases

Dwarf fountain grass is also generally free of major diseases, but it can be affected by some fungal infections, such as rust, leaf spot, and root rot.

These diseases can cause brown or black spots on the leaves or stems, wilting or dying plants, and poor growth.

To prevent and control these diseases, remove any infected parts or plants, improve drainage and air circulation, and avoid overhead watering.

Invasiveness

Some varieties of Pennisetum are invasive in certain regions of the U.S., especially in Hawaii and the southern continental area.

These plants can spread rapidly by seeds or rhizomes and displace native flora and fauna.

They can also pose a fire hazard due to their flammability.

To prevent and control invasiveness, choose non-invasive cultivars, such as ‘Hameln’ or ‘Little Bunny,’ avoid planting near natural areas, and remove any unwanted seedlings or runners.

Conclusion

Dwarf fountain grass is a wonderful addition to any garden, with its fountain-like flowers and colorful foliage.

It is easy to grow and care for as long as you provide the right conditions and maintenance.

It can also face some problems, such as pests, diseases, and invasiveness, but these can be prevented and controlled with some simple measures.

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