The Q&A Archives: Purple Fountain Grass

Question: I believe the purple fountain grass is a perennial but I planted mine last year and it looks pretty pitiful. It did get pretty chilly over here over the winter (high 20's) could this have killed it off for good or is this plant actually an annual? Thank you,

Answer: The ornamental grass typically sold as purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum, Pennisetum purpureum) is not very winter hardy (zone 8) and probably would not survive in your area. It should be treated as an annual and replanted each year.

Hardy ornamental grasses should be cut back to about six inches either in late fall or in mid spring before the new growth starts. Cutting them in fall removes the ornamental seed heads, so some gardeners will delay until spring. The new growth will cover the old stubs in just a few weeks. Some gardeners use a hedge trimmer to cut the grass off, this is much faster than using a hand clipper.

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