Overwintering pennisetums

Asked August 14, 2019, 5:05 AM EDT

Hello, I recently planted these pennisetums: - Pennisetum advena Fireworks (Variegated Purple Fountain Grass) - Pennisetum alopecuroides Hameln (Dwarf Fountain Grass) - Pennisetum orientale Karley Rose (Oriental Pink Fountain Grass) - Pennisetum setaceum Rubrum (Purple-Leaved Fountain Grass) Then I found out that while they are perennials, they don't always make it through the winter in my northern Baltimore County area. I am trying to increase their odds by watering them frequently to build out their roots for the winter. I have planted them close to the house, so they at least are somewhat warmed by the house. What else can I do to increase their chances? Some kind of ground cover? All suggestions welcome. Thank you.

Baltimore County Maryland

5 Responses

Pennisetum advena and Penisetum rubrum are not hardy here. They are tender perennials and considered annuals in our area. They will not return in the spring.
Here is some information from Missouri Botanical Gardens, if you decide to try to overwinter indoors. http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c257

Pennisetum alopecuriodes and orientale - like moist well drained soil in full sun. Do not overwater. Let the soil dry slightly before watering again. Mulch with a 2-3 inch layer over the soil surface and do not pile it around the stems.
Ornamental grasses do not like poorly drained soil or too much shade. The protected area by you house will offer some winter protection, if we have a cold winter. Cut back the foliage to about 4-6 inches in the spring before growth resumes. Here is some information from the U of Illinois https://extension.illinois.edu/grasses/care.cfm


Thank you. I should have checked with you first.

Are there other varieties of pennesetum that will do well in the northern Baltimore County area?

What about panicum varieties?

We do not have recommendations for other Pennisetum varieties. Some may self seed and are not recommended especially near wooded or natural areas.

Depending upon mature height and width consider ornamental grass species that are native such as Panicum virgatum, switchgrass, and Schizachyrium scoparium, little bluestem.
A non-native grass is
Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’.


That helps a lot. Thank you!