Pennisetum villosum is one of the easiest and most visually stunning grasses to grow. Brilliant white, rabbit-tail spikes are produced in abundance from bushy, clump-forming deciduous plants. Eye-catching and early to flower in borders or large containers.
The grassy clumps may initially disappoint you.......but then comes the gorgeous display of arching stems, each one ending in a perfectly formed fluffy head of long white awns or 'bunny tails'. The flowers last throughout summer and well into winter.
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.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Pennisetum villosum was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1999.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beds and borders, City, Containers, Cottage/Informal, Foliage only, Prairie planting. Flower arrangements. Low Maintenance or Mediterranean.
Pennisetum villosum is native to north-eastern Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsula, and it is grown elsewhere as an ornamental plant. It can sometimes be found growing wild where it has escaped cultivation.
Pennisetum is named for its soft inflorescences. It is taken from the Latin penna meaning 'feather' and seta meaning 'a bristle', thus literally, "feather-bristled," because some species have plumose or feathery bristles
The species name villosum means 'hairy' to emphasize the fluffy awns.
It is also called Fountain grass, Chinese Fountain Grass, Abyssinian Feathertop and African Fountain Grass
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 25 Seeds Common Name Chinese Fountain Grass Other Common Names Abyssinian Feathertop, African Fountain Grass Family Poaceae Genus Pennisetum Species villosum Cultivar Cream Falls Synonym Pennisetum longistylum Hardiness Tender Perennial Flowers Graceful creamy-white bracts. June to frost. Height 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) Spread 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) Position Full sun to partial shade. Aspect All aspects. Exposed or Sheltered Soil Light, moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soil. Notes Tender Perennial treat as an Annual.