The flexible Pennisetum alopecuroides

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Pennisetum alopecuroides is a striking native grass that makes a bold statement planted independently, as a border, backdrop or en masse. This is commonly know as Foxtail grass not to be confused with the South African Pennesetum which has become a weed in some parts of Australia.

However, in some parts of Australia this native grass has also been declared a problem there is a great article here which describes the status of the different Penesetums. To my knowledge Pennisetum alopecuroides and its cultivars are not a problems in NSW.
But please let me know if you have heard otherwise.

Pennisetum alopecuroides is one of the most ornamental native landscape grasses because of it’s beautiful flowers and weeping habit. It is tolerant of wet feet, drought, wind, humidity and frost, these images were taken on a Winter morning in Canberra hence the mist and dew.

This grass grows fast and therefore requires a cut back now and then to keep it under wraps, therefore read the size guide on the plant tag with some scepticism 😉 This grass looks great backlit and moves easily in the breeze creating a cooling and relaxing atmosphere.

There are several dwarf varieties available, most notably ‘Purple Lea’ and ‘Nafray’, these are supposed to have a low viability seed too. The seeds attract seed-eating birds like finches, parrots and pigeons, even if they are the low viability varieties.

Pennisetum alopecuroides looks great planted with other native grasses like Lomandra ‘Lime Tuff’ and Pot ‘Eskdale’ to give some foliage contrast. They grow to 1.5 m high x 1.5m wide and like to be pruned back after flowering.
With many councils and public spaces moving away from flowering shrubs and ground covers, because of the maintenance hours they require, I’m hoping to see our native grasses take a more ornamental position in the Landscape.


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