The Q&A Archives: Fountain Grass

Question: We just received replacements for 48 fountain grasses from HOme Depot as they all died during the last winter. We are very nervous about planting them again. The HOme Depot person told us to cut them down during the winter which we did and they died. I heard from another employee when we received the replacements that they are not to be trimmed til early springtime..clarify please...

Answer: Perennial fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Hameln') will survive your winter temperatures. Other plants called fountain grass may not so be sure what you have is hardy to your lowest winter temperatures. Fountain grasses typically die after the first frost of the season but I like to leave the foliage on the plant because it adds winter interest to the garden. Then in very early spring you'll see new blades emerging from the crown of the plant. At that time you can either cut the plant down to ground level or you can don a pair of garden gloves and pull up on the dead foliage. It will come off easily. I like to rake through the foliage with my fingers, pulling up as I go. This breaks off the dead foliage at various levels and gives the plant a more natural look (rather than looking like it got a crew cut). Either way, wait until early spring to remove the old blades. Enjoy your garden!

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