Purple fountain grass made its way into my garden because of my interest in burgundy foliage plants. The blades are deep maroon and the inflorescence a taupe color tinged with a bit of red. I have used it with plants that flower in the same color family such as Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and ‘Caldwell Pink’ rose. The most impressive display I have created with this grass was in a friend’s mixed border. The purple fountain grass swayed gracefully in the breeze among aster ‘Hella Lacy,’ ‘Blush Noisette’ rose, and the very dramatic and very purple Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha). Now it’s time for me to come clean. For all of purple fountain grass’s stunning attributes, I am sad to say it is an annual, except in the warmest climates. For most of us, it is an addition to the garden that we will have to plant each spring – but I think it’s well worth the effort.
When planting ornamental grasses make sure the bed or container is deeply cultivated, at least 36 inches, to give the root systems room to grow down. This helps increase their drought tolerance. Compost or humus is the only soil amendment needed.