There are approximately 80 species that make up the genus Pennisetum. They are distributed widely throughout various tropical and temperate regions around the world. Many are perennials and have been selected for use in ornamental landscapes. The Pennisetums are primarily grown for their prolific and highly ornamental flowers, although some, like P. setaceum 'Rubrum,' are also grown for their attractive red- or bronze-colored foliage. The majority of Pennisetums go dormant in the winter except in exceptionally mild areas. However, there are a few evergreen species that are being introduced to the trade including P. spathiolatum and P. messiacum. Pennisetums are generally care free. Once established most require little maintenance outside of an annual hard pruning to promote fresh growth and blooms for the following year. A few types of Pennisetum are invasive and therefore should be used with great care in the landscape. The true species P. setaceum spreads very aggressively into natural areas and has replaced many native species along our beautiful California coastline.
REQUIREMENTS: Zones 6-10, 14-24. Most prefer full sun or light shade. Will thrive in a variety of soils with some varieties preferring well drained areas. Most are drought-tolerant, but some prefer more regular water.