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Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’

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Zones 8-24, 26, 27, 29, H1, H2
Full Sun
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’

Pennisetum setaceum

Fountain Grass
Poaceae (Gramineae)
Annuals, Ornamental grasses and grasslike plants, Perennials


Growing in fountainlike mounds, these are among the most graceful of the ornamental grasses. They have long, narrow leaves and arching stems that bear furry, foxtail-like flower plumes in summer, with bloom often extending into fall. Use them in containers, in perennial or shrub borders, or as bank covers.

Pennisetum setaceum

Often grown as an annual in colder climates. From tropical Africa, southwestern Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula. Grows to 5 ft. high and wide. Forms a dense clump of medium green foliage; long plumes of coppery pink or purplish flowers are held within the clump or just above it. Dies back in winter, even in mild climates. Full sun. Can take supplemental irrigation but doesn’t need any. In arid climates, thrives in gravel beds and other dry sites. Thanks to its heavy self-sowing, this species will threaten to crowd out native vegetation when planted near open country; it has become a rampant pest in the Hawaiian Islands. To prevent seeding, cut off flower plumes before seeds mature.

‘Rubrum’ (‘Cupreum’) has purplish red leaves and rose-colored plumes that fade to beige. ‘Eaton Canyon’ (‘Red Riding Hood’) is similar in color but grows to just 1 1/2–2 ft. tall and wide; it is evergreen in frost-free areas. Neither usually sets seed. Some believe that these red-leafed plants belong to another species.

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