Foxtail Grass ( Pennisetum Purple Fountain)

Plant: Table of Contents

The Allure of Foxtail Grass (Pennisetum Purple Fountain)

Plants bring life and vibrancy to our surroundings, whether it’s a bustling urban landscape or a tranquil backyard garden. Among the myriad of plants out there, there’s one that’s particularly captivating – the Foxtail Grass, scientifically known as Pennisetum Purple Fountain. Its graceful, feathery fronds and eye-catching color make it a favorite among plant enthusiasts and landscape designers.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the world of Foxtail Grass, exploring everything from its cultivation and care to its uses and benefits. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a budding plant enthusiast, there’s something in this guide for everyone. So, let’s embark on a journey to discover the allure of Foxtail Grass and unlock the secrets to cultivating this stunning plant.

What is Foxtail Grass (Pennisetum Purple Fountain)?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details of caring for Foxtail Grass, let’s take a moment to understand what exactly this plant is.

Plant Overview

Attribute Details
Scientific name Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’
Common name Foxtail Grass, Purple Fountain Grass
Plant type Ornamental grass
Hardiness zones 9 to 11 (USDA zones)
Mature height 3 to 5 feet
Mature spread 2 to 4 feet
Foliage color Purple/red
Sunlight Full sun
Soil Well-draining soil

Key Takeaways – Foxtail Grass (Pennisetum Purple Fountain)

Here are some key takeaways about Foxtail Grass that we’ll be exploring in detail throughout this guide:

  • Foxtail Grass, also known as Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’, is an ornamental grass prized for its graceful, arching foliage and striking purple-red color.
  • It is well-suited for USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11 and thrives in full sun and well-draining soil.
  • This plant is a versatile and low-maintenance addition to landscapes, bringing a touch of elegance to gardens, borders, and container arrangements.
  • Its feathery plumes and exceptional texture make it a popular choice for landscaping, providing interest and movement to outdoor spaces.

Now that we have a basic understanding of what Foxtail Grass is, let’s delve deeper into how to cultivate and care for this enchanting plant.

Cultivation and Care of Foxtail Grass

Cultivating Foxtail Grass successfully involves attention to several key factors, including water, sunlight, soil, fertilizer, pruning, and propagation. Let’s explore each of these aspects in detail to ensure the optimal growth and health of Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’ in your landscape.


Proper watering is crucial for the health and vitality of Foxtail Grass. While this plant is relatively drought-tolerant once established, it’s essential to provide adequate moisture, especially during the establishment phase. Here are some guidelines for watering Foxtail Grass:

  • Establishment: Water newly planted Foxtail Grass regularly to ensure the root system develops well. Aim for moist, but not waterlogged, soil during this stage.
  • Mature plants: Once established, Foxtail Grass generally requires minimal watering. However, during prolonged dry spells, provide supplemental irrigation to prevent the soil from becoming overly dry.

Tip: Monitor the soil moisture levels regularly, and adjust your watering schedule based on the plant’s needs and environmental conditions.


Foxtail Grass thrives in full sun, making it an ideal choice for sunny, open landscapes. When planting this ornamental grass, be sure to select a location that receives ample sunlight throughout the day. Here are some key points regarding sunlight requirements for Foxtail Grass:

  • Optimal sunlight: Aim to plant Foxtail Grass in an area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily for best growth and foliage color.
  • Shade tolerance: While Foxtail Grass prefers full sun, it can tolerate partial shade. However, prolonged periods of shade may result in reduced vigor and vibrant coloration.

Tip: Observe the site where you plan to plant Foxtail Grass throughout the day to ensure it receives the required amount of sunlight.


Proper fertilization can enhance the growth and visual appeal of Foxtail Grass, promoting lush foliage and robust plumes. When it comes to fertilizing Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’, consider the following recommendations:

  • Timing: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring as new growth begins. Avoid excessive fertilization, as it can lead to overly vigorous growth and reduced color intensity.
  • Application rate: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate application rate based on the size and age of the plant.

Tip: A soil test can help determine the specific nutrient needs of your Foxtail Grass, guiding you in selecting the most suitable fertilizer formulation.


Well-draining soil is essential for the health and longevity of Foxtail Grass. Planting in poorly draining or waterlogged soil can lead to root rot and other complications. Here’s what you need to know about soil requirements for Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’:

  • Ideal soil type: Choose a well-draining, loamy soil for planting Foxtail Grass. While it can tolerate a range of soil types, good drainage is crucial for preventing waterlogged conditions.
  • pH levels: Foxtail Grass thrives in slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. Ensure the soil pH is within this range for optimal growth.

Tip: Amending heavy clay soils with organic matter can improve drainage and create a more hospitable environment for Foxtail Grass.


Pruning helps maintain the shape and appearance of Foxtail Grass, preventing it from becoming untidy or overgrown. Additionally, removing spent plumes can encourage new growth and maintain the plant’s visual appeal. Here are some pruning techniques for Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’:

  • Spring clean-up: In late winter or early spring, prune back the previous year’s growth to a few inches above the ground to allow new growth to emerge.
  • Deadheading: Remove spent flower plumes as they fade to promote continuous blooming and prevent self-seeding.

Tip: Use sharp, clean pruning tools to ensure smooth cuts and minimize the risk of disease transmission.


While Foxtail Grass can be propagated through division or seed sowing, division is the preferred method for maintaining the characteristics of the parent plant. Here’s how to propagate Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’ through division:

  • Timing: Divide mature Foxtail Grass clumps in early spring before new growth emerges for the best results.
  • Division process: Carefully dig up the clump and use a sharp tool to divide it into smaller sections, each containing viable roots and shoots.
  • Replanting: Plant the divided sections in prepared soil, water thoroughly, and provide adequate care to support their establishment.

Tip: Keep the newly divided sections well-watered and protected from excessive heat or sun until they establish a strong root system.

Uses of Foxtail Grass

Foxtail Grass offers a multitude of uses, ranging from landscape beautification to container gardening and floral arrangements. Let’s explore the various applications of Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’ and the benefits it brings to different settings.

Landscape Ornamentation

Foxtail Grass is prized for its ornamental value, adding texture, movement, and color to garden landscapes. It can be used in the following ways to enhance outdoor spaces:

  • Borders and edging: Plant Foxtail Grass along borders and garden edges to create a soft, feathery border that adds visual interest and delineates different areas.
  • Mass plantings: Use Foxtail Grass in mass plantings to create a striking visual impact, especially when the foliage sways gracefully in the wind.
  • Xeriscaping: Incorporate Foxtail Grass into xeriscape designs to introduce a touch of elegance and visual appeal in water-efficient landscapes.

Tip: Pair Foxtail Grass with flowering perennials or shrubs for a dynamic and eye-catching garden display.

Container Gardens

Foxtail Grass is equally at home in container gardens, where its graceful form and vibrant color can be showcased on patios, balconies, and other outdoor spaces. Consider these ideas for using Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’ in containers:

  • Thriller component: Use Foxtail Grass as the “thriller” element in container arrangements, where its upright growth and striking appearance serve as a focal point.
  • Mixed planters: Combine Foxtail Grass with complementary plants in mixed container arrangements to create visually appealing compositions.

Tip: Select containers with adequate drainage holes and use a well-draining potting mix to ensure optimal growth of Foxtail Grass in containers.

Floral Arrangements

The feathery plumes of Foxtail Grass make it a valuable addition to floral arrangements, adding texture, depth, and visual interest to bouquets and decorative displays. Here’s how to incorporate Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’ in floral arrangements:

  • Cut stems: Harvest mature plumes of Foxtail Grass in late summer or early fall for use in dried floral arrangements or fresh bouquets.
  • Complementary element: Use Foxtail Grass as a complementary element in floral compositions, blending harmoniously with other flowers and foliage.

Tip: Hang harvested stems of Foxtail Grass upside down to air dry and preserve their striking color and texture for long-lasting arrangements.

Popularity of Foxtail Grass

The popularity of Foxtail Grass, also known as Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’, has soared in recent years, garnering attention from homeowners, landscapers, and horticultural enthusiasts. Its unique characteristics and versatile nature contribute to its widespread appeal. Let’s delve into the factors that contribute to the rising popularity of this stunning ornamental grass.

Aesthetic Appeal

Foxtail Grass is celebrated for its exceptional aesthetic appeal, characterized by its graceful, arching form, vibrant purple-red foliage, and feathery plumes. These visual qualities make it a sought-after addition to gardens, landscapes, and container plantings, where its presence elevates the overall visual impact.

Low Maintenance

One of the key factors contributing to the popularity of Foxtail Grass is its low maintenance nature. Once established, this ornamental grass requires minimal care, making it an attractive choice for busy homeowners and landscaping professionals seeking visually striking yet undemanding plants.


Foxtail Grass’s versatility is another aspect that contributes to its widespread popularity. Whether used as a standalone specimen, a mass planting, or a container accent, this plant adapts to various settings and design schemes, offering flexibility in landscaping and horticultural applications.

Drought Tolerance

The ability of Foxtail Grass to thrive in dry conditions further enhances its popularity, particularly in regions with water conservation efforts or periodic droughts. Its minimal water requirements and ability to maintain visual appeal in dry spells make it an attractive choice for water-wise landscaping.

Wildlife Attraction

The feathery plumes of Foxtail Grass hold an allure for wildlife, attracting birds and beneficial insects to the garden. This ecological benefit contributes to the plant’s appeal for environmentally conscious gardeners and those seeking to support local wildlife populations.

Tip: To capitalize on the popularity of Foxtail Grass, consider incorporating it into your landscaping projects or offering it as a recommended plant for enhancing outdoor spaces.

Common Diseases of Foxtail Grass

While Foxtail Grass is relatively resilient, it is susceptible to certain diseases and disorders that can impact its growth and visual appeal. Understanding these potential issues and implementing preventive measures is crucial for maintaining the health and vigor of Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’.

Disease Diagnosis

Here are some common diseases and disorders that may affect Foxtail Grass, along with their symptoms and potential management strategies:

  • Leaf spot: Characterized by the presence of brown or tan spots on the foliage, leaf spot can be managed by improving air circulation and avoiding overhead watering to reduce humidity around the plant.
  • Root rot: Excessive moisture and poorly draining soil can lead to root rot in Foxtail Grass. To prevent this, ensure proper drainage and avoid overwatering.

Tip: Promptly address any signs of disease or distress in Foxtail Grass to prevent the spread of issues and minimize their impact on the plant.

Common Pests Affecting Foxtail Grass

In addition to diseases, Foxtail Grass may be susceptible to pests that can compromise its health and ornamental value. Recognizing these potential pests and implementing appropriate pest management measures is essential for safeguarding the plant from infestations.

Pest Identification

Here are some common pests that may affect Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’, along with their characteristics and potential control methods:

  • Aphids: These small, sap-sucking insects may cluster on the foliage and stems of Foxtail Grass, impacting its growth and vigor. Control aphids by spraying with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
  • Grasshoppers: These voracious pests may feed on the foliage of Foxtail Grass, causing extensive damage. Use physical barriers or insecticidal treatments to manage grasshopper populations.

Tip: Regularly inspect Foxtail Grass for signs of pest activity and take proactive measures to prevent or mitigate infestations.

Botanist’s Tips for Growing Foxtail Grass

To ensure the successful cultivation and care of Foxtail Grass, it’s helpful to consider the insights and recommendations of experienced botanists and horticultural experts. Here are some valuable tips for growing Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’ based on professional expertise:

  • Ample sunlight: Provide sufficient sunlight to Foxtail Grass for robust growth and vibrant coloration, selecting a planting site with full sun exposure.
  • Well-draining soil: Ensure the soil is well-draining by amending heavy clay soils with organic matter to prevent waterlogged conditions that can harm the plant.
  • Moderated fertilization: Avoid excessive fertilization, as it can lead to overly vigorous growth at the expense of vibrant foliage color.

Tip: Consult with botanical experts or horticulturists for personalized advice on growing and caring for Foxtail Grass, especially in challenging or unique gardening conditions.

Fun Facts About Foxtail Grass

Now that we’ve covered the essentials of cultivating and caring for Foxtail Grass, let’s delve into some intriguing and delightful fun facts about this charismatic ornamental plant:

  1. Attractive to birds: The feathery plumes of Foxtail Grass are a magnet for birds, particularly in late summer and fall when the plumes mature. Birds may use the plumes for nesting materials or foraging.

  2. Autumnal beauty: As temperatures cool in the fall, the vibrant purple-red foliage of Foxtail Grass intensifies, creating a stunning visual display in the landscape as other plants begin to wane.

  3. Graceful movement: Even the slightest breeze can set the delicate plumes of Foxtail Grass swaying, adding mesmerizing movement to garden landscapes and container plantings.

  4. Year-round interest: While the plumes of Foxtail Grass are particularly showy in late summer and fall, the arching foliage provides year-round interest, contributing texture and visual appeal to the garden.

Tip: Incorporate these fun facts into your plant descriptions or educational materials to engage and inspire others with the enchanting qualities of Foxtail Grass.

Links to External Resources

For further information and in-depth insights into Foxtail Grass (Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’) and related topics, you may find the following external resources valuable:

  1. The American Society of Landscape Architects
  2. The Royal Horticultural Society
  3. University Cooperative Extension Services

These organizations and platforms provide a wealth of information on gardening, landscaping, plant care, and horticultural practices, offering valuable resources for enthusiasts and professionals alike.

In conclusion, the allure of Foxtail Grass, also known as Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’, lies not only in its striking visual appeal and ornamental value but also in its adaptability and low-maintenance nature. Whether you’re envisioning a serene garden retreat, a vibrant landscape display, or a dynamic container arrangement, this captivating ornamental grass has the potential to elevate outdoor spaces with its grace and beauty. By understanding its cultivation, care, and applications, you can unlock the full potential of Foxtail Grass and create enchanting garden landscapes that captivate the senses and inspire the soul.

Remember, the world of plants is rich with diversity and wonder, offering boundless opportunities for exploration, creativity, and connection with the natural world. As you embark on your journey with Foxtail Grass and other plant companions, may your experiences be filled with discovery, joy, and growth. Happy gardening!

This comprehensive guide covers all aspects of Foxtail Grass (Pennisetum ‘Purple Fountain’), from its cultivation and care to its uses and benefits. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a budding plant enthusiast, there’s something for everyone in this detailed exploration of a captivating ornamental grass. From its water and sunlight requirements to its versatility in landscape and container settings, this guide equips you with the knowledge and insights needed to cultivate and care for Foxtail Grass successfully.

Picture of Peter Taylors

Peter Taylors

Expert botanist who loves plants. His expertise spans taxonomy, plant ecology, and ethnobotany. An advocate for plant conservation, he mentors and educates future botanists, leaving a lasting impact on the field.