The Q&A Archives: Getting my Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum through the winter

Question: We live in Brooklyn, NY and have been growing Pennisetum sectaceum Rubrum (a purple fountin grass) on our deck all summer. The grasses are in 12" pots. We love this grass but it won't make it though the winter is this zone. Can you recommend anything we might do?

Also, I've been collecting the shoots that come off this plant (fuzzy things with seeds in them). Will I be able to plant those seeds in the spring?

Thank you very much

Answer: Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to winter this grass unless you have a cool greenhouse -- say about 45 to 50 degrees. Allow the plant to slow down, trim back the tops and hold it barely moist over the winter. Then in spring repot into a larger pot and set it outside again.

A seedling ornamental grass is actually very small, so it really would not be worth the effort to save the seeds. The ornamental grasses such as yours are usually propagated or started and sold as root divisions.

All of the above explains why gardeners who like this grass grit our teeth and buy more each spring.

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