What to plant with purple fountain grass?

deejeApril 18, 2006

I've built a circular raised planter that's about six feet in diameter. I'm thinking, since this planter will be viewed from all sides, about planting fountain grass in the center and some annuals around the outside.

I like the idea of the cascading grass in the center, like a ... well, like a fountain. ;-) But around here, I can only find purple fountain grass, which to my eyes often looks a little brown.

What would look well with the grass? Does anyone have photos of combinations they've enjoyed?

Alternatively, is there something else which would give me this shape in the center of the planter? I'm not sold on grass, per se, but I love the form.

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Loretta NJ Z6

There is a pic on the Ride the Wave website of silver tidal wave petunia with purple millet, similar in color. Click on the link below then to the right, click on "view in container" next to the silver tidal wave petunia.

Here is a link that might be useful: tidal wave silver petunia

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 3:01PM
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Ah, interesting! Silver does go well with that color. Thanks, Loretta!

Oh, but I just happened to think... the planter is constructed from those gray landscape blocks. I'll bet the silver would be lost against the gray.

I've been searching the web for photos, but I haven't been able to find the grass in combination with others. And now that I've realized I have to factor in the color of the grass *and* the planter... shoot, maybe I need to come up with something else "fountain-y" for the center. Suggestions?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 4:03PM
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Every year, I plant a Victorian wire planter with one purple fountain grass in the middle, three Ipomea (sweet potato) 'Blackie', which has dark purple leaves, and three lavender impatiens. With frequent liquid fertilizer, this soon fills in and is the centerpiece of that garden area. A common rule for planting a container is: a vertical element; some mounding or clumping elements; some hanging elements. An easy rule of thumb. Love that purple fountain grass!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 4:08PM
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Exactly, ginny, that's why I want the fountain shape in the center. Besides being a nice vertical element, it would be attractive from all sides. Such a pretty grass, such a tricky color to work with. I'd gladly switch to a different plant, if anyone has suggestions for a similarly-sized and -shaped plant. It surely doesn't HAVE to be grass, but I can't think of anything else with that form.

I'll bet your wire planter is gorgeous! My planter is in full sun so that scratches impatiens, and "blackie" is hard to come by here for some reason (and expensive when you do find it) so I'll have to come up with other combinations. Wish I'd thought of this earlier; I could've started seed for some dark-leaved variety of coleus, which is also hard to find at the nurseries here.

(oh, and completely off-topic to ginny -- the "sailor's buttons" made it through the winter! They're only about three inches tall, but so far, so good!)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 4:52PM
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Hey, Deeje, thanks for remembering. I did find a mail-order source for your sailor's buttons and I'd better get busy ordering them. It's great to hear yours are doing well.

If you can find the Ipomea 'Blackie'--and it's so popular now that I don't know why nurseries your way charge so much for it--you will love the color with fountain grass. It is grown from a tuber, like a very small sweet potato. Don't think it is from seed. As for the impatiens, just substitute any lavender-pink annual that will give you color all summer in your sunny conditions. Happy gardening this year!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 7:18PM
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I had the PFG last year, and while I didn't like it where it WAS, I did like the plant. I love your idea of using it in a container! (And I may copy you on that!!!)

I'm picturing BRIGHT pink against that dk burgundy...and maybe hmmm...we wouldn't wanna cover it up, so nothing too tall...I'll second the wave petunias...

coleus? Might compliment it if you wanna go all foliage

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 3:45PM
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Maybe: sweet potatoe vines (both Blackie and Margarite, coleus 'Kong Scarlet', golden creeping jenny.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 6:35PM
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I'll post a pic of what I come up with later this summer!

It's strange, I've grown tri-color sweet potato vine for years and years, and Marguerite is always available, but I can't find Blackie in the nurseries to save my soul. But I'm going to look for a coleus with the right deep, rich colors, and I have a couple other foliage ideas now...

mmqchdygg, I was thinking of a bright pink too, but just couldn't see it against that brownish-purple. I may have to just walk around the garden centers holding the grass up to everything. I'll definitely have some wave petunias in there, but not sure what color.

Nuts, now I have to wait about three weeks until it's safe to buy annuals up here! I'm excited to get going! Thanks for your help everyone, and I'll show you the results when they're growing all photogenically!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2006 at 9:31AM
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I will be planting some 'Cooler Grape' vinca with my PFG, along with SPV Blackie.
I also want to try the new Viva SunPatiens. These are impatiens that will grow in FULL sun. I think the magenta would look fantastic with the PFG. I also want to try some of these in orange for other containers. Finally an orange annual that blooms constantly all summer and in full sun.

Here is a link that might be useful: link to Viva SunPatiens

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 9:20AM
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nanelle_gw(9/Sunset 14)

Several of these container gardens use pennisetum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fine Gardening Containers

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 12:35AM
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lkaa(z7 NOVA)

I did yellow lantana and orange new guinea impatiens last year with PFG and it came out quite nice. The lantana was more of a weeper so it poked through and around. It got sun until early afternoon and that is down south, so it may work as well in your full sun.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 10:52PM
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Try the proven winners website. They show several combination planters featuring purple fountain grass.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 10:04PM
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Susy(Zone 5/6 MO.)

Here is a container of rubrum grass with black and green potato vine I planted last year. I liked the combo so well I will be planting it this year.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 2:45PM
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nanelle_gw(9/Sunset 14)

Very nice!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 12:24AM
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Susy--May I ask how many Blackie sweet potato vines you had in the container to get that full effect? And did you pinch them? Very, very nice!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 12:01PM
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Susy(Zone 5/6 MO.)

Ginny, I had one black and one green one in the pot. That photo was early in the season and they, especially the black one, was trailing way out on the concrete by summer's end. I didn't pinch them--they just took off! Hope they do as well this year.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 6:49PM
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Thanks, Susy! Your planter is lush and wonderful--thanks for sharing the photo and the info.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 8:25PM
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