Pennisetum alopecuroides - Fountain Grass

Fountain grass can develop into an imposing mound of gracefully arching foliage and flowers, but it is never invasive in colder climates. Regardless of size, this form exhibits fine textured foliage with soft to-the-touch inflorescences. The bottlebrush-like seedheads are enjoyed long after many other garden plants have faded, persisting well into the winter months.

Be warned that Fountain grass needs a long growing season to bloom well. In our Zone 5 area in the very south of British Columbia, that means we need to have an early Spring with an Indian Summer.

Description: warm season*; clump forming
Foliage is green; 10 mm (3/8") wide; 60-100 cm (24-40") in height
Flowers in August through Sept; 100-150 cm (40-60") tall

Ideal conditions: full sun to light shade; moist, well-drained soil; will grow in any soil except those that are poorly drained

Coldest zone: 5, possibly colder (may not bloom if the growing season is short) (find your zone; further info on plant hardiness)

Season of interest: August to winter

Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once every 2 weeks); further info

Native to: meadows and open woods, alongside streams of Eastern Asia and Australia

Recommended spacing between plants: 60-90 cm (24-36") why such a difference?

When to divide: when it shows signs of life in the spring, continuing until the new growth is about 12" tall; only in the spring (further info on dividing grasses)

When to plant or transplant: plant bare root plants only in late spring to early summer, when the soil is warm, about the same time you plant your bean or corn seeds. The roots will grow only in warm soil. Planting too early in the spring may cause the roots to rot. Similar story in the fall when the roots may not grow enough to establish before the cold and wet of winter, resulting in the demise of the plant.

When to cut back: before the new growth starts to appear, but after the cold weather is over. Cut back to about 3-4" from the crown of the plant.

Pronunciation: Pennisetum (pen-ih-SEE-tum) alopecuroides (al-oh-pek-yur-OY-deez)


*a warm season grass likes to grow in warm weather. Before it will show signs of life in the spring, the soil must warm up, and be warm for possibly as long as two weeks.

More ornamental grasses

Compare Pennisetum alopecuroides to our other grasses in this handy chart.


Pennisetum alopecuroides - Fountain Grass
Pennisetum alopecuroides - Fountain Grass


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