Window Boxes and ContainersTraditional Landscape, Miami
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3. Plant an ornamental grass for instant drama. To give some serious pizazz to existing container gardens by adding just one plant, reach for purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’, zones 8 to 11). The dramatic ornamental grass can reach 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide (although usually smaller in containers) with a vase-like shape topped with fuzzy purple seed heads. Although often grown as an annual in colder climates, it will continue to look striking throughout fall.
Purple Fountain Grass(Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’)Purple fountain grass has exceptional dark purple foliage with fluffy, bottlebrush-like spikes. Its overall shape is reminiscent of a fountain, which is how it gets its common name. Although an annual in colder zones, it will continue to look striking throughout fall. USDA zones: 8 to 10 (grow as an annual elsewhere)Water requirement: Medium moisture; well-drained soilLight requirement: Full sun to light shadeMature size: 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide
Potted plants. If your potted plants are drying out too quickly, consider a strategy that will help retain soil moisture and keep plant roots cooler:• Move pots where they get some afternoon shade.• Mass containers together so that they shade one another’s roots. (Be sure to allow for sufficient air circulation and light penetration.)• Use lighter-colored pots for lower heat gain.• Use larger containers — with a higher mass-to-surface-area ratio, the relative root area exposed to the solar-heated pot is reduced.• Use porous containers (for example, terra-cotta vs. glazed ceramic); evaporation cools the surface of the pot.• Use trailing plants to shade the pot’s surface.
Planting notes: Purple fountain grass likes loose, well-drained soil. Let it dry out a bit in between watering — once established, it's fairly drought tolerant. If you live in an area with very hot and intense sun, this grass will take some partial shade, particularly in the afternoon. If you live in USDA zone 8b or above and would like to treat purple fountain grass as a perennial, let it shine in your garden until late winter (February) when you can cut it back to about 6 to 8 inches. All other zones should treat purple fountain grass as an annual, but since it is so affordable and such a fast grower, you won't mind replacing it annually.More great design plants: Flowers and plantsGrassesTrees
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Common names: Purple fountain grass, rose fountain grass Botanical name: Pennisetum setaceum USDA zones: Perennial in 9-11, annual in all other zones Water requirement: Average water needs; drought tolerant once established Full sun to light shade Mature size: Up to 48 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide Drought tolerant In late spring to mid-fall, the burgundy-black foliage and foxtail plumes remain a constant feature in the perennial garden; the foliage of purple fountain grass is outstanding, featuring a striking, dark burgundy/black grassy blade that has a lighter green base When to plant: Mid-spring or after last frost