Introduced around 1930, Pennisectum setaceum 'Ruepelii' gives attractive clumps of graceful, arching leaves are lovely year ‘round. Even more so when they bear showy, long fuzzy, coppery-rose heads which are gorgeous when they catch the sunlight.
It is one of the easiest and most visually stunning grasses to grow. The grassy clumps may initially disappoint you.......but then comes the gorgeous display of arching stems, each one ending in a perfectly formed fountains of dark awns. The flowers last throughout summer and well into winter. Carefree plants make a very interesting landscape accent. Blooms the first year, too.
Pennisetum is a fairly tender perennial often used as an annual and is hardy down to about minus 5°C, (-21°F) so if planted in a sheltered spot, may survive the winter, otherwise it can be grown in large pots and moved to a cool greenhouse over the winter months.
Sowing: Sow indoors in late winter to early spring or sow in autumn. Seeds can also be sown directly outdoors on open ground from March onwards
Sowing Indoors: Sow on to the surface of a free-draining, moist seed-sowing compost and cover with 3 to 4mm (¼ in) of vermiculite. Keep at around 15 to 20°C (60 to 68°F) Germination should take place in approximately two weeks. Maintain a temperature of 15°C (60°F) after germination until the seedlings are established Once seedlings are large enough to handle, take a small clump of seedlings and put them all in a one-litre pot of gritty compost. They will form a bushy plant and be ready to go into the garden in summer. Plant out in sun and in well drained soil.
Sowing Direct: Ensure all ground is weed free and well prepared before sowing. Sow the seed 2 to 3cm (¾ to1¼in) deep in rows 60 to 90cm (25 to 35in) apart with a distance of 10 to 30cm (4 to 12 in) between the plants. The rate and speed of germination will depend on the soil temperature and weather conditions and could be from seven to twenty one days.
Cultivation: Cut back old foliage in spring as new growth appears in the centres of plants. Feed in summer with single dressing of a dilute general fertiliser. Even without an annual feed, most grasses will put on a first-rate show. The more nitrogen grasses receive the greener and further they'll grow. Do not over do it…their spreading habit is fine in a field, but in a garden they may become too lush and the flower quality may suffer.
Drying: Pennisectum can be dried and make interesting focal or secondary flowers in dried arrangements. To dry, cut the flower at the height of bloom and hang upside down in a cool, dark place to dry.
Plant Uses: Beds and borders, City, Containers, Cottage/Informal, Foliage only, Prairie planting. Flower arrangements. Low Maintenance or Mediterranean.
Nomenclature: Pennisetum is named for its soft inflorescences; Latin penna and seta mean feather-bristle. Setaceum also means bristle, to emphasize the long spikes. The purple cultivar ‘Rubrum' was introduced around 1930.
|Packet Size||30 Seeds|
|Average Seed Count||No|
|Common Name||Chinese Fountain Grass, Abyssinian Feathertop, African Fountain Grass|
|Other Common Names||No|
|Flowers||Copper / Rose bracts. June to frost.|
|Natural Flower Time||No|
|Time to Harvest||No|
|Position||Full sun to partial shade.|
|Aspect||All aspects. Exposed or Sheltered|
|Soil||Light, moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil.|
|Time to Sow||No|
|Notes||Tender Perennial treat as an Annual.|