Overwintering Purple Fountain Grass
I just discovered you can overwinter purple fountain grass and I’m really excited about this. I grow this in planters on my poolside patio and terrace every year and it is so beautiful and graceful. This year my neighbor also has purple fountain grass growing in planters on her deck. She always orders something super-showy from a nursery, so her urns are always spectacular every year, no matter what she has. I can not believe how HUGE her purple fountain grass is – I mean, her urns look so lavish and lush, like something you’d see on the grounds of a resort somehwhere spectacular. Yes, I am envious, I never KNEW you could get purple fountain grass to grow that large. Its so showy!
So I went online to try to figure out how to grow really big purple fountain grass – that was my exact search term. Well, I didn’t really find any info on that, but I did find out you could over winter it. And in a round about way, I guess that’s my answer to how to grow really large purple fountain grass – bring the plant in at the end of the season, and let that large root ball start growing again the next spring. By staring with an already full size root ball at the beginning of the season, you should theoretically end up with a much larger plant, and from there it just keeps growing and growing. If you over winter it again the following season, it will just continue increasing in size from there. Of course, you’ll have to have the appropriate indoor space to house these big root systems in large pots, and Im not exactly sure that I do, but I’ll start by overwintering one or two of this years plants at the end of the season and just see how that goes and if its even worth the bother (I think it will be). So here’s how – fairly straightforward, rather typical overwintering instructions:
Its possible to enjoy this pant year after year when grown in a container and brought indoors for overwintering. Cut it back to about three inches or so and place either in a sunny window in a cool area of the home or keep it in your basement. Keep the plant moist, not soggy – water about once a month. Once the threat of freezing and frost has passed in spring, you can set the purple fountain grass back outdoors.
Since mature plants can reach about four feet tall and just as wide, they should be given plenty of room in the garden, spacing additional plants at least three to five feet apart. Dig a hole both deep and wide enough to accommodate the roots and then water your purple fountain grass thoroughly.
Take Care of Purple Fountain Grass
Caring for purple fountain grass is also easy. The plant is drought tolerant so watering sufficiently every week or two should be adequate.
Although nor required, you can give it an annual feeding with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer in spring to help stimulate new growth.
You should also cut it back in fall prior to bringing the plant indoors or in late winter/early spring for those left outdoors in suitable climates.
Fountain grass is a spectacular ornamental specimen that provides movement and color to the landscape. It is hardy in United States Department of Agriculture zone 8, but as a warm season grass, it will only grow as an annual in cooler areas. Fountain grass plants are perennial in the warmer climates but to save them in cooler areas try taking care of fountain grass indoors. Learn how to winter over fountain grass in containers. This will allow you to enjoy the playful foliage for years to come.
This ornamental has astounding inflorescences that look like purple feathers (some say squirrel tails). The foliage is a wide grassy blade with a swath of deep purplish-red along the edges. Fountain grass may get two to five feet tall, in a clumping habit. The arching leaves that radiate from the center of the plant give it its name. Mature fountain grass plants may get up to four feet wide.
This is a really versatile plant that tolerates full sun to partial shade, walnut proximity, and moist to slightly dry soils. Most zones can only grow this plant as an annual, but bringing purple fountain grass inside can save it for another season.
How to Winter Over Fountain Grass in Containers
The relatively wide and shallow roots of the grass are no match for freezing temperatures. Plants in cold zones should be dug up. You can put purple fountain grass in containers and bring them indoors where it’s warm.
Dig out several inches wider than the farthest reach of the foliage. Gently excavate until you find the edge of the root mass. Dig down and pop out the whole plant. Place it in a pot with good drainage holes in a quality potting soil. The pot should be slightly wider than the root base. Press the soil in firmly and water well.
Taking care of fountain grass indoors is not difficult, but you need to be careful not to overwater the plant. Keep it moist, (but not wet) because it can die very easily from drying out.
Clip the foliage down to about 3 inches from the top of the pot and stick it in a sunny window in a cool room. It will revert to green coloration and won’t look like much for the winter, but when it goes back outside in the spring, it should come back.
Bringing Purple Fountain Grass Inside
Put purple fountain grass in containers in late summer to early fall, so you are prepared to bring them inside when freezes threaten. You can bring fountain grass plants inside and save them in the basement, garage, or other semi-cool area.
As long as there are no freezing temperatures and moderate light, the plant will survive winter. Gradually acclimate the plant to warmer conditions and higher light during spring by putting the pot outside for longer and longer periods over a week’s time.
You can also divide the roots and plant each section to start new plants.