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How to plant fountain grass in Melbourne

Garden advice
How to plant fountain grass in Melbourne
All Green
All Green
May 10, 2021
minute read

Planting this decorative purple grass is easy

Fountain grass features graceful foliage that arches elegantly above purple coloured stems. This ornamental grass is drought tolerant, making it suitable for the dry Australian climate.

Our decorative fountain grasses are grown locally, so they are perfect for Melbourne's conditions. For expert advice on planting fountain grass, visit us at All Green Nursery and Garden.

Why plant fountain grass?

Fountain grass or Pennisetum is a versatile perennial plant with lots of different sub-species. A native plant of Africa and Asia, this hardy, decorative grass is ideal for adding a pop of colour to your front yard.

Some reasons to plant fountain grass include:

  • It's a low-maintenance plant
  • Resilient to pests and diseases
  • Suitable for arid climates
  • Decorative and easy to use in landscaping
  • Vibrant purple foliage
  • Adds to the curb appeal of your home
  • Plants live through multiple seasons
  • Fountain grass may attract birds to your garden
  • Plumes can adorn flower arrangements

These evergreen grasses display coloured foliage year-round. In summer, fountain grass is at its most vibrant with purple blooms. During autumn and winter, the fine hair-like plumes will fade to yellow and white.

Fountain grass plumes can add texture and movement to your garden. Plus, dried or fresh foliage trimmings will add delicate contrast to flower arrangements.

Choosing the best variety of fountain grass

variety of fountain grass

There are over 150 different varieties of fountain grass.

Smaller varieties will grow to around 60cm high and 60cm wide. Larger varieties grow as high as 1.5m and to a width of 1.2-1.5m.

You can choose from the many varieties of fountain grass based on:

  • Size of the plant
  • The planting location
  • Colour
  • Whether it will be in partial shade or full sun

Seeking advice on which type will thrive in your specific location will ensure you make the best selection.

When to plant fountain grass

The best time to plant fountain grass is during spring. While you can establish this resilient plant at any time of year, planting fountain grass as the weather turns warmer allows new plants to take advantage of this optimal growing season.

Plan to plant fountain grass in Melbourne during the months:

  • September
  • October
  • November

Where to plant fountain grass

Fountain grass can tolerate a diverse range of harsh climates, including high humidity, heat and coastal winds.

Fountain grass prefers a location in your garden that has:

  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Well-drained, slightly acidic soil

Different varieties suit different planting styles. Some of the ways you can plant this versatile grass include:

  • In pots
  • In a container garden
  • As an individual feature plant
  • Amidst other arid climate species
  • In a cluster or mass of the same species

How to plant fountain grass

Plant this decorative grass in full sun or partial shade. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Create a hole in the potting mix or soil with the same depth as the container that held the plant
  2. Remove the plant from the container
  3. Gently tease the roots
  4. Settle the plant into the hole and fill it with soil to the depth of the root ball
  5. Form a ring of soil around the outer edge of the root zone to keep water where it's needed
  6. Add mulch and water generously

Fountain grass grows fast, so new plants placed into the garden bed should be spaced  between 130cm and 150cm apart.

If you are planting into a pot, the pot should be twice the size of the plant.

The plants will look beautiful as single plants, planted en masse or amidst other drought resistant grasses and plants.

Caring for fountain grass after planting

Newly planted fountain grass requires regular water until the plants become established.

Once fully established, fountain grass won't need a lot of water.

  • During summer, watering once or twice a week is sufficient to keep established plants healthy.
  • Established plants will only need water during dry periods.  

In most cases, fountain grass won't require additional fertiliser to grow successfully.

  • A slow-release fertiliser can help to support new growth in spring.
  • The use of fertiliser will depend on the nutrition profile of your garden's soil.

Annual pruning will help to keep plants looking fresh and healthy.

  • The best time to prune is early spring or late winter.
  • Prune plants to a third of their size to remove old foliage and spent flowers.

Fountain grass grows fast during spring and summer and may spread to other areas of your garden. Remember to check it regularly and cut it back to prevent it from overgrowing into places where it isn't wanted.

Pruning before the flowers turn to seed helps to:

  • Prevent the unwanted spread of this hardy grass to other areas of your garden
  • Keep plants looking vibrant and fresh

Mark your calendar and set a reminder to trim fountain grass in early spring or late winter.

Planting fountain grass amongst other drought-tolerant grasses can give your yard life all year round. If you need landscaping or garden advice, the green-thumbed staff at All Green Nursery and Garden are always happy to talk about how you can get your yard looking beautiful.

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