Annual Ornamental Grasses

Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ – There are more than a few gardeners out there who wish this that this exotic-looking tender grass would survive the winters here, but such is not the case. Purple Fountain Grass bears large purplish-pink plumes from late summer into fall, contrasted against reddish-purple foliage (when grown in sun). Grows 3-4′ tall and is hardy to zone 9.

Pennisetum glaucum ‘Purple Majesty’ – Purple Ornamental Millet is a true annual which is quite effective in containers and mixed borders. The foliage emerges green, eventually turning a deep burgundy-brown (with sun). This is followed by stiff purple bottlebrush plumes that develop brownish-purple seeds, often attracting wild birds. Grows 2-3′ tall with a 12-16″ spread. Annual.

Lagurus ovatus – Bunny Tails or Hare’s-Tail Grass is another true annual species native to the Mediteranean, but which has naturalized in many parts of the UK. This species is drought tolerant once established and prefers well-drained soil. The creamy-white plumes (fading to tan in fall) are excellent for dried arrangements. Grows 12-20″ tall and 12″ wide. Annual.

Pennisetum setaceum ‘Fireworks’ – This variegated Purple Fountain Grass is a sport of ‘Rubrum’. Foliage emerges green with white and burgundy stripes, eventually turning a vibrant reddish-pink (with sun) as the season progresses. The additional midsummer plumes make it a great choice for containers. ‘Fireworks’ grows 2-3′ tall and 1-1.5′ wide. Hardy to zone 9.

Pennisetum purpureum ‘Princess Caroline’ – This ornamental Napier Grass features broad blades of rich dark purple foliage (with brown overtones) that are quite sturdy and feature good disease resistance. This compact version of ‘Prince’ rarely blooms in areas that are not frost free, so treat it as a foliar plant. As with most purple-leaved Pennisetum, it is not hardy here, so consider it an annual. Grows 2-3′ tall and is hardy to zone 9.

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