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How to Keep Purple Fountain Grass Alive Through the Winter

By Joyce Starr ; Updated September 21, 2017

Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides setaceum rubrum) is a member of the family Poaceae, which includes grass. Native to tropical regions of Africa, the Middle East and southwest Asia, purple fountain grass prefers to grow in warm, subtropical and tropical regions of the U.S. U.S.D.A. planting zones 8 through 10 can treat purple fountain grass as a perennial, but cooler regions will need to treat it as an annual. It will not survive in temperatures below 20 degrees F. Purple fountain grass is a warm season, ornamental grass that will beautify any landscape or garden.

Grow purple fountain grass in a container if you live in areas where the temperature dips below 20 degrees F. in winter. Bring the container inside to a warm, protected area that receives light, when the weather begins to turn cool. Allow the grass to turn completely brown and trim to the ground. Keep the container watered every two weeks, while it is wintering.

Allow the purple fountain grass to completely turn brown and die, if you live in zones where the grass is a perennial. Wait until it has completely died off in late fall, before trimming.

Use hedge trimmers or pruning shears and cut the purple fountain grass down to the ground. Rake up the cut grass clippings. Be careful while trimming that you do not expose the grasses root system.

Mulch over the grasses roots to maintain warmth in the ground and around the root system, if a frost or freeze is predicted. Water the planting site deeply, the day before the cold weather arrives in your area. Rake away the mulch, once the weather has warmed.

Water the purple fountain grass once per week during winter. Do not keep the planting site soggy or the grass will develop root rot and die.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Container
  • Pruning tools
  • Mulch
  • Water

Tips

  • Purple fountain grass is a fire hazard in winter due to its extreme dryness.
  • Purple fountain grass is disease and pest free.
  • Divide the grass during its growing season in spring through summer. Dividing in fall will not give the new plants a chance to develop an adequate root system to survive through winter.
  • The graceful, purple plumes make good cut or dried flowers.

About the Author

 

For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.