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Like so many grasses, fountaingrass is spectacular when backlit by the rising or setting sun. Named for its especially graceful spray of foliage, fountaingrass also sends out beautiful, fuzzy flower plumes in late summer. The white, pink, or red plumes (depending on variety) continue into fall and bring a loose, informal look to plantings. This plant self-seeds freely, sometimes to the point of becoming invasive.
Under 6 inches to 8 feet
1-4 feet wide
more varieties for Fountaingrass
Pennisetum alopecuroides makes neat but dense 2- to 5-foot clumps of 1/2-inch-wide leaves that turn golden in fall and persist into the winter. The bottlebrush panicles of silvery white spikelets (flowers) arise in late summer and mature to bronze, according to variety. Zones 6-9
'Prince' purple fountaingrass
Pennisetum setaceum 'Prince' shows off delightful purple foliage that deepens in color as temperatures rise. It can grow 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. It's often grown as an annual in the North. Zones 8-11
'Rubrum' purple fountaingrass
Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' makes mounds of purplish-red leaves. Erect red stems carry arching 1-foot-long pink to reddish-purple panicles of spikelets from midsummer through fall. It's usually grown as an annual, though it is perennial in Zones 8-11.
plant Fountaingrass with
Daylilies are so easy to grow you'll often find them growing in ditches and fields, escapees from gardens. And yet they look so delicate, producing glorious trumpet-shape blooms in myriad colors. In fact, there are some 50,000 named hybrid cultivars in a range of flower sizes (the minis are very popular), forms, and plant heights. Some are fragrant.The flowers are borne on leafless stems. Although each bloom lasts but a single day, superior cultivars carry numerous buds on each scape so bloom time is long, especially if you deadhead daily. The strappy foliage may be evergreen or deciduous.Shown above: 'Little Grapette' daylily
False sunflowers are easily confused with perennial sunflowers, but they have the advantage of being more compact (less floppy) and blooming earlier so you can have more sunflowerlike flowers longer. Their brilliant yellow single, semidouble, or fully double flowers bloom over many weeks. They make excellent cut flowers. Tall varieties may require staking. Divide the plants every couple of years to ensure vigor.
Nothing beats a dahlia for summer color. Growing these varied, spiky flowers is like having a box of garden crayons at your disposal. The flowers form on branching, fleshy stems or open in solitary splendor on the bedding-plant types in mid- to late summer. Several different flower categories, from the petite mignonettes to the gigantic dinner-plate dahlias, offer possibilities for any space.Expert dahlia growers recommend pinching off the first crop of side flower buds to encourage vigorous plant branching and larger flowers in peak season. All dahlias are fodder for brilliant seasonal cut bouquets and are always one of the most popular cut flowers at local farmer's markets. Their blooming season extends into fall and is only halted by the first frost.Gardeners in climates colder than Zone 8 should cut back the withered foliage after the first frost and dig up tubers to store over winter. For a fast start with dahlia plants before it's safe to plant outdoors, pot the tubers up, water sparingly and grow in a sunny location until sprouts appear, and then transplant outdoors after the last frost.