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Fountain grass makes splash in low-water garden

White fountain grass stays compact and adds motion to the low-water garden.
White fountain grass stays compact and adds motion to the low-water garden. Ellen Zagory

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Life After Lawn” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and ideal for drought-tolerant landscapes.

White fountain grass

Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’

Size: Forms clumps 2 feet to 3 feet tall and wide.

Bloom season: Attractive foxtail-like flower heads in spring and summer.

Exposure: Full sun.

Pruning needs: Cut to the ground in winter when dormant to refresh foliage.

Water needs: Medium to low; once established, water deeply every other week.

Snapshot: Delicate, fine-texture leaves make an attractive tuft for the front or middle section of the border. In late spring, it produces furry pinkish plumes that lend it a soft and appealing form in low-water landscapes. These pretty plumes also add motion to the garden. The usually green foliage colors with orange tints as weather cools. The leaves turn tan in winter. Unlike some fountain grasses, this hybrid species is not weedy nor invasive and keeps its tidy appearance.

For more on “Life After Lawn,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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