Pennisetum alopecuroides- swamp foxtail grass
Pennisetum alopecuroides- swamp foxtail grass is a clumping perenial grass with slender green foliage. It produces feathery purple flower spikes that resemble a foxes tail in late spring right through to autumn. It goes dormant in winter.
Swamp foxtail is great for adding texture to landscapes. Looks amazing mass planted.
Prefers a sunny position. Tolerates a wide variety of soil types. Plants should be cut back after winter to allow new growth. Its a good idea to remove finished flower heads. It seeds readily.
Botanical name: Pennisetum alopecuroides
Common name: Swamp foxtail grass
Native to: Australia
Flowers: Late spring-autumn
Position: Full sun
Is Pennisetum alopecuroides evergreen?
It seems to depend on how cold the temperature gets. Here in West Gippsland our temperatures can go as low as -5C overnight. Our swamp foxtails will go completely dormant and turn brown in these temps. Come spring they will shoot away again.
Meanwhile swamp foxtails in town, where the temperatures are a few degrees warmer and don't receive frosts the plant remains green throughout the winter.
How hardy is pennisetum alopecuroides?
It's a very hardy, showy plant. It can tolerate a wide range of soils and moisture conditions. Swamp foxtail as its name suggests can also be grown in boggy soil, yet its also quite drought tolerant once established.
The only thing that will make swamp foxtail appear unsightly is frost. A heavy frost will turn the foliage brown. Wait until the threat of frost has passed then cut the brown foliage off at ground level. Almost instantly the plant will start re-shooting fresh, green growth.
Is pennisetum alopecuroides invasive?
Unlike some other grasses pennisetum alopecuroides doesnt send out runners, however it can easily self seed. The young plants are easily pulled out or sprayed with a herbicide.
If self seeding is a worry for you, remove the flower heads before they brown off. When they brown off is when the seed is ready to disperse.
The flower heads look amazing in flower arrangements, so there's a good excuse to cut the flowers off before they seed.
Pest and diseases.
Swamp foxtail is pest and disease free in our experience.
What plants mix well with swamp foxtail?
We think swamp foxtail can look quite impressive when mass planted by itself, from summer- winter it flowers constantly and a large strand looks amazing.
In smaller gardens incorporating it with other grasses is also quite nice. Adding it into gardens with blue fescue, poa labillardierei, purple fountain grass and cordylines.
How do you propagate swamp foxtail?
We collect and sow the seed. Its quick and easy and available for half the year. For more information read this article or watch the short video below.