Virtues: The compact size of this fountain grass makes it a versatile design element. At just about knee height, it can work in the middle of a perennial bed or as an edging. Soft, narrow leaves provide fine texture and movement all summer. Flower plumes appear in mid- to late summer. Seed heads provide fall interest. A good “medium size” between two other popular cultivars, ‘Hameln’ (larger) and ‘Little Bunny’ (smaller). Also reportedly more floriferous than ‘Little Bunny’.
Common name: ‘Piglet’ fountain grass
Botanical name: Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Piglet’
Foliage: Long, narrow, flexible green blades. Foliage turns reddish brown in fall.
Flowers: Fuzzy-looking spikes of tiny pinkish white flowers appear in late summer. These fade to tawny brown as seed ripens in fall.
Habit: Warm-season perennial clumping grass. Grows 18 inches tall and 30 to 40 inches wide. Flower height can reach over just over 2 feet.
Season: Summer for flowers, fall for seed heads. (Seed heads typically burst by mid- to late fall, so pennisetums do not provide the winter interest some other ornamental grasses do.)
Origin: Cultivar of Pennisetum alopecuroides, a grass native to eastern Asia and western Australia. Bred by Brent Horavth of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens.
Cultivation: Grow in full sun. Requires good drainage. Likes regular moisture. Drought tolerant once established; leaves may shrivel during dry periods but will bounce back when rain returns. Cut back to about 3 inches tall in fall or spring. Growth will resume when weather warms up in spring. Spread is by seed and it may moderately self sow. Remove seed heads before they shatter (burst open) if self-sowing is a concern. Divide every few years in early spring to keep the clump healthy and full; discard the center of the clump and replant the outer portions. USDA Zones 5–9.
Image courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.