I have two plants of fountain grass ‘Hameln’, one on either side of the stairs leading to my formal garden. Growth starts in spring, by June the plants are looking lush, and in July the flowers begin to emerge. These beautiful spikes of flowers can be used in cut arrangements while still pale yellow and green, or can be left on the plant to provide interest all fall until they shatter in the winter. The generic name, Pennisetum, comes from two Latin words, penna meaning feather, and saetum meaning bristle, but I think “foxtail” more aptly describes the flowers. The foliage consists of long narrow leaves that arch gracefully downward, resembling a fountain, thus giving the plant its common name. In fall the leaves turn orangey brown, then beige as winter sets in, and stay attractive until spring. This grass is not fussy about soil and does well in wet areas along ponds and streams but is equally successful in somewhat drier areas, although it appreciates a good watering once a week during dry spells. Very easy to grow, ‘Hameln’ looks good in a variety of places either massed or as a specimen.

Type: Perennial grass.

Bloom: Spikes of bushy flowers appear in mid to late summer and persist until winter.
Size: 1 ½ -2 H x 1 ½ -2’ W.

Light: Full sun to part sun but flowers better in full sun.

Soil: Average to fertile, medium to wet.

Hardiness: Zones 5-9

Care: Cut down old foliage in spring before new growth occurs.

Pests and Diseases: None of significance.

Propagation: Division in spring.

Companion plants: Sedum “Autumn Joy’, coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium), black eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’).

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By Karen