Loved for its form and its bristly seed heads, Fountain Grass is one of the easiest grasses to grow and a staple of many gardens. Pennisetum macrouruna 'Tail Feathers' is a beautiful tussock forming grass that produces an abundance of long, thin, bristly flower heads in summer that start off white and gradually turn to a pale straw colour. Its leaves are pale green on the surface with a silvery underside.
In perennial beds, Pennisetum can provide an upright form and help blend colours together. They provide a texture and colour contrast against evergreen shrubs in winter and a soft green background for blooming plants in summer. 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.
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.
Native to South Africa, Pennisetum macrouruna grows in lowland grassland and grassy woodland, along the banks of rivers and creeks.
Pennisetum is named for its soft inflorescences; Latin penna mean 'feather' and seta meaning 'bristle'. The hairs attached to the flower plumes are feathered in some species.
The species name macrouruna is derived from macro, from the Greek makros meaning 'large' and ‘aruna’ meaning ‘reddish-brown coloured’
It is often called to as African Fountain Grass or Veld Grass referring to its origin.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 25 Seeds Common Name Chinese Fountain Grass Other Common Names Abyssinian Feathertop, African Fountain Grass, Veld Grass. Family Poaceae Genus Pennisetum Species macrouruna Cultivar Tail Feathers Flowers Graceful creamy-white bracts. June to frost. Foliage Clump-forming, Green in Summer Height 50-60cm (20-24in) Spread 50-60cm (20-24in) 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.