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Products > Pennisetum x advena 'Rubrum'
Pennisetum x advena 'Rubrum' - Red Fountain Grass

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae) (Grasses)
Origin: Africa, Central (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Red/Purple Foliage: Yes
Flower Color: Burgundy
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [P. x advena, P. 'Cupreum' Cenchrus setaceus hyb]
Parentage: (P. setaceum x P. macrostachyum)
Height: 4-5 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Pennisetum x advena 'Rubrum' (Red Fountain Grass) - A clumping semi-evergreen grass that grows upright to 4-5+ feet tall with dark burgundy-red foliage that arches gracefully outwards and produces one foot long red plume-like inflorescences that rise above the foliage and arch over nicely toward the tips. This grass seems to be completely evergreen (red) in frost free zones, but goes deciduous with frost and it is root hardy to about 20 F and useful as a perennial in USDA Zones 9-10 and as an annual in colder areas. Plant in full sun and water sparingly to control height. It is both moderately drought and heat resistant but looks its best with occasional summer irrigation. This is a great ornamental grass with dark foliage that works well in mass plantings or mixed with other contrasting colored plants. It looks its best if it is cut back in late winter to cleanly show of its new emerging foliage. This clone rarely seeds out but occasional seedling plants emerge in garden areas and seem true to the type. For many years most nurseries and references have listed this plant as a variety of Pennisetum setaceum, either 'Rubrum' or 'Cupreum'. While it superficially resembles Pennisetum setaceum, a declared noxious weed in the western US, this plant has in the past also been described by some grass taxonomists as being a selection of the more tropical Pennisetum macrostachyum. In the grass section of the Flora of North America, which includes naturalized and cultivated grasses, the specific name it is listed as in now Pennisetum advena . Dr. Joseph K. Wipff, previously with Texas A&M and now a turfgrass breeder, wrote the section on Pennisetum in the Flora of North America and has indicated that Red Fountain Grass is most likely a cross between Pennisetum setaceum and P. macrostachys and as a hybrid the name most appropriately be Pennisetum x advena 'Rubrum' and this is how we have listed this plant. The Latin word 'advena' means "newly arrived" or "stranger". Pennisetum 'Rubrum', nor selections made from it such as the variegated clone 'Fireworks', should really not be listed as a cultivar of Pennisetum setaceum as this is not only incorrect, but it would also confuses these plant with Pennisetum setaceum, a known noxious weed. In California and several other states where Pennisetum setaceum is a declared noxious weed it is actually not legal for nurseries to grow this species. In California it currently it has a C rating with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, meaning it must be controlled in nurseries. Organizations such as PlantRight and many others are rightfully advocating that it not be grown at all so it is an important distinction that the non-weedy hybrid cultivars not be mistaken for this species. We have grown Pennisetum 'Rubrum' at our nursery since 1982 and until 2006 also listed it as a cultivar of Pennisetum setaceum but have since corrected this.  Information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library, from online sources, as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens where we have observed it. We also will incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips would aid others in growing Pennisetum x advena 'Rubrum'.