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Is there a difference??????

Posted by Olivia081600 z5/Denver (My Page) on
Fri, May 6, 05 at 22:35

I was at Home Depot today looking for purple fountain grass. What was on the label just said fountain grass. The grass itself was pretty dried up, purple, green and brown and the plumes that were on it were beige and might have been just old. So was wondering is there a difference between fountain grass and purple fountain grass?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Is there a difference??????

FWIW, I was at a nursery the other day. Their big batch of purple fountain grass in the greenhouse (including the dwarf 'Red Riding Hood') were approximately 6-8 inches high. They were still green with just a few that had a barely noticeable purple tinge to them. The only ones that were already purple were in at least a gallon container and at least a foot and a half tall.

I bought one of the large and one of the dwarfs and have had them in full sun for only one day. The purple color in some of the leaves is starting to show.

RE: Is there a difference??????

I'm no expert on the subject but I will explain the best I can. Fountain grasses are called Pennisetum. There are different species of pennisetum. Purple fountain grass is Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'. I hope that helps a little. I'm sure someone will be along to explain better.

RE: Is there a difference??????

Hi Olivia,

Purple fountain grass isn't hardy here in Denver--unfortunately! A lot of the other Pennisetum's are--and there are some really cool ones--but they're green. When you're looking at the box stores, be really careful about what you're getting. You can sometimes get some really good deals if you happen to get there right after they get the stuff, but they don't have anybody who knows how to water or take care of it, so if it's been there for more than a couple days, it's usually gotten way too dry before it got watered. Then they water it, let it get too dry again, water it, etc. Nobody seems to notice it's getting dry until it's getting "crispy." Or else they keep it too wet---which is even worse! It kinda sounds like the ones you were looking at had gotten way too dry. They'd probably come around, but start out really slowly. When you're buying at a box store, carefully check for yellowing or brown leaves. Things shipped from the growers at this time of year should all have good green, fresh looking foliage if it's been properly taken care of.

Happy spring,

RE: Is there a difference??????

Purple or red fountain grass is very tender and not winter hardy in your area. The fountain grass you saw at HD is either another perennial variety of FG or it's dead. When your HD starts stocking red/purple fountain grass, it will be very lush and colorful. The stores are just starting to stock red/purple FG in North Carolina, and our weather is much milder than Denver. Red/purple fountain grass is so tender it doesn't even like cool temperatures, eg 40s.

Other varieties of fountain grass are very nice ornamentals, but not as colorful as the red/purple ones. Some other nice varieties include Hameln, Little Bunny, Moudry, and Oriental.

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