Fountain Grass Growing Guide

Pennisetum alopecuroides, Pennisetum setaceum, Pennisetum orientale

Fountain Grass

Crop Rotation Group



Fertile, well-drained soil.


Full sun to partial afternoon shade.

Frost tolerant

Established fountain grass plants are winter hardy to -34°C (-30°F).


None needed except when grown in containers. Feed potted plants monthly with a liquid organic fertiliser.


Single Plants: 90cm (2' 11") each way (minimum)
Rows: 90cm (2' 11") with 90cm (2' 11") row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

You can sow fountain grass seeds in spring or autumn, but pennisetums often do not breed true from seed. If you want to grow a cultivar with coloured foliage or showy seed heads, start with a vegetatively propagated cultivar. Set out container-grown plants from spring to early summer in sunny, unimproved soil. Young plants need water their first year, but after that fountain grass becomes very drought tolerant. Fountain grass is fast to establish and forms a vigorous clump by its second year. You can increase your supply of plants by digging divisions from the outside of the clump in late spring and transplanting them to a new location.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalised calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Fountain grass brings grace and movement to the garden, especially when sited so that its feathery seed heads can be seen through morning or evening sun, or against an evergreen backdrop. Symmetrically round plants, with long leaves that arch toward the ground, fountain grass explodes with pretty seed heads in summer, which persist until early winter. Fountain grass has a tendency to self-sow, especially in warmer climates where the seeds can sprout all winter. In winter, after the tops have broken and withered, use a hedge trimmer or small chainsaw to cut the plants back to about 4 inches (10 cm) from the ground.


The leaves and seed heads can be used in cut arrangements.


This easy to please grass rarely has problems with pests and disease and is resistant to nibbling by deer and other animals.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

< Back to All Plants

Pests which Affect Fountain Grass