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Varieties of Fountain Grass

Cherry sparkler fountain grass

Fountain grass is not just one plant.

It’s a whole family of ornamental grasses that can add beauty and texture to your garden.

You may have seen them in public parks, landscaping projects, or your neighbor’s yard.

But do you know how wide varieties of fountain grass there are? And how to choose the best one for your climate and style?

In this article, you will discover the diversity and versatility of fountain grass. And you will find out how to grow and care for this stunning plant in your garden.

Whether you want a low-maintenance ground cover, a dramatic focal point, or a colorful accent, fountain grass has something for you. Read on to explore fountain grass varieties and how to make them thrive.

What Is Fountain Grass?

Fountain grass, also known as Pennisetum, is a gorgeous ornamental grass that adds a touch of elegance and grace to any garden landscape.

With its cascading foliage resembling a flowing fountain, it’s no wonder it’s a popular choice among gardeners.

This grass comes in various varieties.

Benefits of Growing Fountain Grass in Gardens

Fountain grass attracts birds and butterflies, adding wildlife appeal to your garden.

Growing fountain grass in your garden offers numerous benefits like the following:

  • Relatively low-maintenance, making it an ideal choice for busy gardeners.
  • Drought-tolerant once established, requiring minimal water once it has settled in.
  • Fountain grass is a hardy perennial that can provide year-round interest to your garden, even during the winter months.
  • Its attractive seed heads can add a unique charm to your winter landscape.
Expert Tip!

To maintain the health and vigor of fountain grasses, it is recommended to divide them every 2-3 years in the early spring or late fall. This helps to prevent overcrowding, promotes better air circulation, and encourages new growth.

Pennisetum Alopecuroides (Common Fountain Grass) Varieties

Pennisetum alopecuroides offers a range of beautiful and versatile varieties, including ‘Hameln’ and ‘Little Bunny.’

These dwarf fountain grasses are prized for their unique characteristics, low-maintenance nature, and stunning appearance.

Let’s take a closer look at some popular cultivars and their unique characteristics and uses.

Variety #1: Hameln (Dwarf Fountain Grass)

Pennisetum alopecuroides Hameln
Source: Wikimedia

Hameln is a compact and dwarf variety of fountain grass, typically reaching a height of 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) with a similar spread.

It features narrow, deep green foliage and produces attractive bottlebrush-like plumes in late summer that turn to a soft tan color in fall.

Characteristics and Uses

Hameln is known for its graceful and fountain-like appearance, perfect for borders, rock gardens, and container plantings.

It adds a touch of elegance to any landscape and can create a stunning focal point or mass planting.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Hameln thrives in well-drained soils and prefers full sun to light shade.

It is drought-tolerant once established and can tolerate a wide range of soil types.

It is also deer resistant, making it a low-maintenance option for your garden.

Variety #2: Little Bunny (Dwarf Fountain Grass)

Pennisetum alopecuroides Little Bunny
Source: Wikimedia

Little Bunny is another dwarf variety of fountain grass that forms small clumps of foliage, typically reaching a height of 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) with a similar spread.

It features fine-textured, bright green foliage and produces tiny bottlebrush-like plumes that age into a creamy tan color in late summer.

Characteristics and Uses

Little Bunny is prized for its compact size and delicate appearance.

It is ideal for rock gardens, borders, and containers.

It adds a soft and graceful touch to any garden and can be used as a ground cover or a filler plant in small spaces.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Little Bunny prefers well-drained soils and full sun to light shade.

It is drought-tolerant once established and can adapt to various soil types.

It is also deer resistant and requires minimal maintenance, making it a perfect choice for busy gardeners.

Pennisetum Setaceum Varieties

Pennisetum setaceum, commonly known as purple fountain grass, is a popular ornamental grass that adds a touch of drama and vibrancy to any garden.

Let’s explore some of the cultivars and varieties of this stunning grass.

Variety #1: ‘Rubrum’ (Red Fountain Grass)

Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum
Source: Wikimedia

‘Rubrum’ is an impressive variety of purple fountain grass with deep burgundy to red foliage and showy, bottlebrush-like plumes that emerge in late summer and last throughout fall.

It typically reaches a height of 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) with a similar spread, creating a bold and eye-catching display in the garden.

Characteristics and Uses

‘Rubrum’ is prized for its dramatic coloration and adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to landscapes.

It makes a stunning focal point, mass planting, or accent plant in mixed borders, containers, and ornamental beds.

Its rich red foliage provides a striking contrast against green foliage plants, creating a visually stunning landscape.

Ideal Growing Conditions

‘Rubrum’ prefers well-drained soils and thrives in full sun to light shade.

It is drought-tolerant once established and can tolerate a wide range of soil types.

It is also relatively low-maintenance, making it a popular choice for experienced and novice gardeners.

Variety #2: ‘Fireworks’ (Variegated Purple Fountain Grass)

Pennisetum setaceum Fireworks
Source: Wikimedia

‘Fireworks’ is a unique and variegated variety of purple fountain grass with green and white striped foliage with occasional hints of pink and burgundy.

It produces attractive plumes in late summer that age to soft tan color, adding a dynamic and colorful display to the garden.

It typically reaches a 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) height with a similar spread.

Characteristics and Uses

‘Fireworks’ is prized for its striking and multicolored foliage, making it an excellent choice for adding interest and texture to landscapes.

It makes a stunning focal point, mass planting or container plantings.

Its variegated foliage provides a bold and dynamic contrast against other plants, creating a visually captivating landscape.

Ideal Growing Conditions

‘Fireworks’ prefers well-drained soils and thrives in full sun to light shade.

It is drought-tolerant once established and can adapt to various soil types.

It is relatively low-maintenance, making it a popular choice for adding a pop of color to gardens without extensive care requirements.

Pennisetum Orientale Varieties

Pennisetum orientale, commonly known as oriental fountain grass, is a graceful and elegant ornamental grass that adds a touch of softness and movement to garden landscapes.

Let’s explore some of the cultivars and varieties of this beautiful grass and learn about its unique characteristics and ideal growing conditions.

Variety #1: ‘Karley Rose’ (Oriental Fountain Grass)

Pennisetum orientale Karley Rose
Source: Wikimedia

Karley Rose is a stunning variety of oriental fountain grass with soft, pinkish-mauve plumes that rise above the foliage in late summer and persist throughout fall.

It typically reaches a height of 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) with a similar spread, creating a delicate and romantic display in the garden.

Characteristics and Uses

Karley Rose is prized for its graceful and airy plumes, making it an excellent choice for adding texture and movement to landscapes.

It makes a beautiful focal point, mass planting, or accent plant in mixed borders, containers, and cottage-style gardens.

Its soft pinkish-mauve plumes provide a delicate and romantic touch to any landscape.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Karley Rose prefers well-drained soils and thrives in full sun to light shade.

It is relatively low-maintenance and can tolerate a wide range of soil types.

It is also drought-tolerant once established, making it a suitable choice for gardens with varying moisture levels.

Variety #2: Tall Tails (Tall Oriental Fountain Grass)

Pennisetum orientale Tall Tails
Source: Wikimedia

Tall Tails is a taller variety of oriental fountain grass with fluffy, cream-colored plumes that emerge in late summer and persist throughout fall.

It typically reaches a height of 3-4 feet (90-120 cm) with a similar spread, creating a majestic and eye-catching display in the garden.

Characteristics and Uses

Tall Tails is prized for its tall and majestic plumes, making it an excellent choice for creating focal points or adding vertical interest to landscapes.

It makes a stunning backdrop, mass planting, or accent plant in larger gardens, borders, and naturalistic landscapes.

Its cream-colored plumes provide a soft and ethereal touch to the garden.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Tall Tails prefer well-drained soils and thrive in full sun to light shade.

It is relatively low-maintenance and can tolerate a wide range of soil types.

It is also drought-tolerant once established, making it a suitable choice for landscapes with varying moisture levels.

Creative Uses of Fountain Grass in Landscaping

Fountain grasses are versatile and dynamic plants that can add texture, movement, and visual interest to your garden.

Here are some creative uses of fountain grass in landscaping.

Use #1: Add Texture and Movement to Gardens

Fountain grasses, with their graceful plumes and swaying foliage, can bring a sense of movement and liveliness to garden landscapes.

They create a soft and airy effect, adding a touch of elegance and whimsy to gardens of all sizes and styles.

Use #2: Enhance Borders, Pathways, and Containers

Fountain grasses make excellent border plants, creating natural and informal edges along pathways, walkways, and garden beds.

They can also be used in containers, adding height, texture, and visual interest to patio gardens, decks, and balconies.

Use #3: Combine Fountain Grass with Other Plants

Fountain grasses can be combined with other plants to create stunning combinations in the landscape.

They pair well with perennials, annuals, and shrubs, adding contrast, color, and texture to mixed plantings.

For example, combining fountain grass with flowers in complementary colors can create a visually striking and harmonious display.

Use #4: Use Fountain Grass as a Focal Point or Accent Plant

Fountain grasses can also be used as a focal point or accent plant in the garden.

Their unique form and texture can draw attention and create a focal point in a garden bed or landscape.

They can also highlight specific areas or features in the garden, such as around water features, sculptures, or seating areas.

Conclusion

In the end, fountain grasses are the poets of the garden, swaying to nature’s rhythm with their textured plumes.

They bring life and vitality to landscapes, capturing the imagination of gardeners and admirers alike.

So let them dance, and let your garden come alive with the untamed beauty of fountain grasses.

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