Fountain grass, also known as Pennisetum or Foxtail grass, can be identified by its graceful, drooping pointy leaves and inflorescences which resemble bottle brushes. Depending on the species, they can be brown, grey, pink or russet, and reach a length of 25cm. They flower from July to September in a fountain shape, but even when it’s finished flowering the plant remains highly decorative. Although fountain grass is a classic border plant, it also works well in low round containers or bowls that show off its round tussock.
Fountain grass is a member of the Poaceae family of grasses. The plant originates from Australia and East Asia, but it has been thriving in Africa and South America for centuries, and can also be found growing wild in Europe nowadays. Fountain grass looks great in informal natural gardens, and the round feminine form lends a softening touch to rockeries and modern gardens with a lot of straight lines. The leaves of some species change colour in winter to a shade of yellow that looks almost golden: very attractive in the autumn sunshine.
Fountain grass trivia
The Latin word Pennisetum is a combination of the words ‘penna’ (= feather) and ‘seta’ (= pig’s hair) and refers to these inflorescences.
The plumes can be dried and used beautifully in collages, still-lifes or dried bouquets.