A Leader

“A Leader”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 


Just a few years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing purple fountain grass planted in containers or landscaping.  It seemed as if it was every where.  This year it does not seem as ubiquitous.  However, I still have mine.  It is a great summer plant.  Mine are planted in containers that flank a trellis that opens to the side yard.  The purple fountain grass gives just the right emphasis to that entrance to the side garden.



I like that this grass can stand heat, high humidity and drought.  All of these characteristics makes this a great plant for my southern garden.  The purple inflorescences start to appear in mid summer and last through winter.  Since mine are in containers and I live in a mild climate, come winter, I just bring them on the porch whenever a freeze is predicted since they are not hardy even here.


In the fall, I usually plant purple violas in the containers at the base of the grass.  This carries the containers through the winter.  When spring comes, I just cut the foliage back to about three inches and soon new shoots appear.  One year I had a piece of plectranthus break off, and I just stuck it in with the purple fountain grass.  Before I knew it, the plectranthus (this really needs a common name) rooted and thrived.  The undersides of its leaves echoed the burgundy blades and the combination worked well.  Ever since then, I have grown them both in the same container.



Purple fountain grass introduced the idea using ornamental grasses in the home garden to many people.  Now that more grasses are available, purple fountain grass is not used as much.  I guess it was a victim of its own popularity.




  1. Sheila said,

    July 29, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    You’re not the only one! My purple fountain grass is still bringing me a lot of enjoyment this time of year when so many other plants are starting to show signs of stress from the summer heat.

  2. meems said,

    July 29, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Hi Jan, Ahhh, purple fountain grass… so many gardeners misplace it and/or don’t know to cut it back in the spring. I just did a post featuring the wonderful plumes sparkling in the sunshine. They are a hardy perennial but in the south can either look really good or not so much.

    I like yours in containers and paired at the trellis. They do look nice that way. BTW, liked your rain lilies too. We have been getting rain everyday (after none for so long) and now I’m seeing mushrooms too… which means fungus… which is a whole other problem. 🙂

  3. Mary Beth said,

    July 29, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Jan, I’m so behind in the trends that I just planted purple fountain grass last fall – and I LOVE it! It gets dappled light and a couple of hours of afternoon sun. Love how it looks in your urns.

  4. Nancy Kasprowicz said,

    July 29, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Hi Jan- Just stumbled upon your blog and noticed your plectranthus comment. The plants I buy for container growing list its common name as “Mona Lavender.” I have to grow it in PA as an annual. It has become one of my favorite flowers. I’m working on a post that will have pictures of this year’s plants. My blog is athomeinthehills.blogspot.com Hopefully will get a garden post up before the end of this week. Can’t wait to explore more of your blog. Nancy

  5. Anna said,

    July 29, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    I love it too and have 4 of them and planted some at my son’s house too. Now I never tried the Plectranthus with it–but I will.

  6. Jan said,

    July 30, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Shelia, you are so right about the timing of purple fountain grass’s peak season. It makes a great transition into fall.

    Hi, Meems. I agree with your comment about placement. Thanks for the compliment on the containers. Don’t you just love rain lilies. They are such sweet little flowers.

    Mary Beth, I don’t think you can be behind the times when you are talking about a great plant like purple fountain grass. In the right place, it can’t be beat. I just think the overplanting of it is over.

    Hi, Nancy. Thanks for stopping by. I had two plectranthus that I planted in the garden overwinter this year. I was very surprised since I have lost it in the container with the grass even though I had protected the container. It maybe a little hardier than I thought. I am going to check out your blog and look for the photos.

    Hey, Anna. I also planted ornamental millet (Jester) next to purple fountain grass last year and that made for a nice combination. I didn’t do that this year because I could not find the millet. Next year, I’ll probably try seeds of the millet.

  7. Phillip said,

    July 30, 2008 at 7:51 am

    I really love it and can’t believe that I didn’t plant any this year. It is not hardy here though so you have to replace it every year.

  8. Alexandra said,

    July 30, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Good morning. I’ve never seen purple fountain grass before, but it is stunning!! I hope you have a good day. 🙂

    PS check my site today for your award.


  9. Jan said,

    July 30, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Phillip, that has happened to me, too. I guess time just gets away from us before we realize it.

    Alexandra, hope you are feeling better today. Thanks for my award. You are so sweet.

  10. Randy said,

    July 30, 2008 at 10:06 am

    I love fountain grass. I didnt’ realize it’s not hardy in our areas? I always assumed it would come back from the root ball. I’m a little disappointed to find that out.

  11. Jan said,

    July 30, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Randy, unfortunately, purple fountain grass is only supposed to be hardy to zone 9. It may survive a mild winter if mulched heavily. I have read where some gardeners dig it up before freezing temps and keep it in a garage until spring.

  12. Brenda Kula said,

    July 30, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I planted this in a large pot last year. And it died. I guess I should have realized, though I’d never planted it before. But I don’t know if I could have moved that large pot onto the porch! But I’ll try again, maybe put it in something more portable.

  13. Nancy Bond said,

    July 30, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    It’s beautiful, and I like the idea of containers as you can then move it around.

  14. Jan said,

    July 30, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Brenda, mine are in about two gallon pots and are quite portable, but they only have the grass in it, not a whole arrangement of plants. The plants are not that expensive to replace if you have to, but I feel kind of sentimental about the two I have.

    Thanks, Nancy. I originally placed them in the containers because I couldn’t decide where to plant them in the garden. They did so well and looked so good in the containers, I decided to keep the grasses in them.

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