13 April 2024
Discover the secrets to successfully growing purple fountain grass in containers and create a stunning display with this informational post.

If you’re looking to add a touch of elegance and whimsy to your garden or patio, growing purple fountain grass in containers might just be the perfect solution. With its stunning purple-hued foliage that gracefully cascades, this ornamental grass is a showstopper that will surely add a pop of color to any space. In this article, discover the secrets to successfully growing purple fountain grass in containers, and how you can create a picture-perfect display that will have your friends and neighbors in awe.

How to Successfully Grow Purple Fountain Grass in Containers

Choosing the Right Container for Purple Fountain Grass

When selecting a container for your purple fountain grass, there are several factors to consider.

Container Size and Depth

Purple fountain grass can grow quite tall and requires a container with adequate space for its roots to spread out. It is recommended to choose a container that is at least 18 inches in diameter and 12 inches deep. This will allow the grass to establish a strong root system and provide enough space for growth.

Drainage Holes and Soil

Proper drainage is essential for the health of your purple fountain grass. Make sure the chosen container has drainage holes to prevent water from pooling in the soil. Additionally, use a well-draining soil mix specifically formulated for container gardening. This will help prevent waterlogged roots and promote healthy growth.

Container Material

When it comes to container materials, there are several options to choose from. Terra cotta pots are a popular choice as they are porous and allow for better airflow to the roots. However, they may require more frequent watering. Plastic containers are lightweight and retain moisture better, but they may not provide as much breathability. Ultimately, choose a container material that suits your personal preferences and environmental conditions.

Selecting the Ideal Location for Your Purple Fountain Grass

The success of your purple fountain grass largely depends on finding the perfect location to plant it in a container.

Sunlight Requirements

Purple fountain grass thrives in full sun, so it is important to choose a location that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Placing the container in a south-facing area of your garden or patio will ensure the grass receives ample sunlight to support healthy growth.

Temperature Considerations

Purple fountain grass is a warm-season plant and is sensitive to cold temperatures. It is best to wait until all danger of frost has passed before moving the container outdoors. During the growing season, ensure the grass is not exposed to temperatures that fall below 55°F (13°C). If colder temperatures are forecasted, consider bringing the container indoors or providing protection.

Wind Protection

Strong wind can damage the delicate foliage of purple fountain grass. Be mindful of placing the container in an area that offers some protection against strong gusts. Consider placing it near a wall, fence, or other sturdy structure that can serve as a windbreak. This will prevent the grass from getting damaged and ensure its overall health and appearance.

Planting Purple Fountain Grass in Containers

Proper planting techniques are crucial for the successful growth of purple fountain grass in containers.

Preparing the Container

Before planting, ensure the container is clean and free of any debris. Additionally, cover the drainage holes with a layer of small stones or broken pottery shards to prevent soil from clogging the holes and impeding drainage. This will help maintain a healthy environment for the roots of the grass.

Choosing the Right Soil

Purple fountain grass prefers well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Use a high-quality potting mix specifically designed for container gardening. Avoid using garden soil, as it may not provide the proper drainage and nutrient balance that the grass requires.

Planting Method

To plant purple fountain grass, create a small hole in the center of the container and gently place the grass, along with its root ball, into the hole. Ensure that the grass is planted at the same depth it was originally growing in. Backfill the hole with soil and gently pat it down to secure the grass in place. Water thoroughly after planting to help settle the soil and remove any air pockets.

Watering and Fertilizing Purple Fountain Grass

Proper watering and fertilizing practices are essential for maintaining the health and vitality of purple fountain grass.

Watering Frequency

Purple fountain grass is moderately drought-tolerant, but it still requires consistent watering to thrive. Water the grass deeply once or twice a week, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other complications. Regularly check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger about an inch deep. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Fertilizing Schedule

Purple fountain grass benefits from regular fertilization to promote vigorous growth and vibrant color. Apply a slow-release balanced fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates. Additionally, supplement with a liquid fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season.

Optimal Fertilizer Ratio

For purple fountain grass, a balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 is suitable. This ratio ensures that the grass receives a balanced blend of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are essential nutrients for overall plant health. Always follow the recommended dosage provided by the fertilizer manufacturer, as excessive fertilization can be harmful to the grass.

How to Successfully Grow Purple Fountain Grass in Containers

Pruning and Maintenance of Purple Fountain Grass

Proper pruning and regular maintenance are essential for keeping purple fountain grass looking its best.

Trimming Dead or Damaged Foliage

Remove any dead, damaged, or yellowing foliage from the grass throughout the growing season. Use clean and sharp pruning shears to make clean cuts just above the base of the grass. This will prevent any potential diseases from spreading and maintain the overall appearance of the grass.

Dividing the Grass

Every few years, purple fountain grass may become overcrowded in its container. When this happens, division is necessary to maintain the health and vigor of the grass. In early spring, carefully remove the grass from the container and gently separate the clumps into smaller sections. Replant the divisions in separate containers with fresh soil to allow for continued growth.

Controlling Pests and Diseases

Purple fountain grass is relatively resistant to pests and diseases. However, occasional issues may arise. Keep an eye out for common pests such as aphids, mealybugs, or spider mites. If an infestation occurs, promptly treat the grass with an appropriate insecticide. Additionally, watch for signs of fungal diseases, such as leaf spot or rust. If any disease symptoms are observed, treat the grass with a fungicide according to the instructions provided.

Overwintering Purple Fountain Grass in Containers

In colder climates or areas with freezing winter temperatures, it is important to take steps to ensure the survival of purple fountain grass during the winter months.

Preparing for Winter

Before the first frost, trim the grass to a height of 4 to 6 inches. Remove any dead foliage or debris from the container. This will help prevent the grass from becoming excessively damaged by frost.

Indoor Storage

If possible, consider bringing the container indoors for the winter. Choose a cool and well-lit area, such as a basement or garage, where the temperature remains above freezing. Place the container near a window to provide some natural light for the grass. Water sparingly during the winter months to prevent overwatering, as the grass will be in a semi-dormant state.

Outdoor Winter Protection

If bringing the container indoors is not feasible, you can protect the grass by insulating the container. Surround the container with a layer of insulating material such as straw, burlap, or bubble wrap. This will help to protect the roots from freezing temperatures and provide some insulation. Additionally, consider placing the container against a south-facing wall or structure for added warmth.

How to Successfully Grow Purple Fountain Grass in Containers

Creating a Stunning Display with Companion Plants

Purple fountain grass can be beautifully complemented by strategically chosen companion plants.

Choosing Complementary Colors

Select plants with flowers or foliage that contrast or harmonize with the purple color of the fountain grass. Consider vibrant orange marigolds, pink petunias, or silver foliage plants like dusty miller. These combinations will create a visually striking display.

Contrasting Textures

Introduce plants with varying textures to enhance the overall visual appeal of the container. Pair the delicate and wispy grass with bold, broad-leaved plants like elephant ears or colocasia. This contrast in textures will add interest and depth to the arrangement.

Height and Size Considerations

Consider the height and size of the companion plants to ensure they do not overshadow the fountain grass. Choose plants that are proportionate to the grass and will not compete for space or light. Opt for trailing plants like ivy or sweet potato vine to spill over the edges of the container, creating a cascading effect.

Repotting Purple Fountain Grass

Repotting is necessary when the grass outgrows its current container or when the soil becomes overly compacted.

Signs that Repotting is Necessary

If the grass becomes root-bound, meaning the roots have filled up the entire container and are growing in tight circles, it is time to repot. Additionally, if the soil is overly compacted, preventing proper drainage, or if the grass shows signs of stunted growth or nutrient deficiencies, repotting may be necessary.

Repotting Procedure

Choose a larger container that provides ample room for the grass to grow its roots. Gently remove the grass from its current container and carefully separate any tangled or circling roots. Trim any damaged or excessively long roots. Place the grass in the new container, making sure it is at the same depth it was previously. Fill the container with fresh potting soil, firming it gently around the grass. Water thoroughly after repotting to ensure proper hydration.

Choosing a New Container

When choosing a new container, follow the guidelines for container size and depth mentioned earlier. Select a container material that suits your preferences and provides proper drainage. Consider aesthetics, functionality, and the overall health of the grass when selecting a new container.

Troubleshooting Common Problems with Purple Fountain Grass

Despite its resilience, purple fountain grass may encounter a few common problems that require attention.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves on purple fountain grass can indicate a watering issue. Ensure the grass is not overwatered or underwatered. Adjust the watering schedule accordingly, making sure the soil is consistently moist but not waterlogged. If the problem persists, it may indicate a nutrient deficiency, and fertilizing with a balanced fertilizer may help.

Root Rot

Root rot can occur if the grass is consistently overwatered or if the container lacks proper drainage. To prevent root rot, ensure the container has adequate drainage holes and water the grass sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. If root rot has already set in, repotting the grass in fresh, well-draining soil is necessary.

Insect Infestation

Occasionally, purple fountain grass may be affected by pests such as aphids, mealybugs, or spider mites. If an infestation occurs, treat the grass with an appropriate insecticide, following the instructions on the product label. Regularly inspect the grass for any signs of pests and take prompt action to prevent the infestation from spreading.

Harvesting and Using Purple Fountain Grass

While purple fountain grass is primarily grown for its ornamental value, the dried foliage can also be harvested and used in various creative ways.

When to Harvest

Harvest purple fountain grass when the foliage has fully matured and turned a rich shade of purple or brown. This is typically towards the end of the growing season when the grass is no longer actively growing. Use sharp pruning shears to cut the grass stems at the desired height, leaving enough foliage to maintain the overall appearance of the grass.

Drying and Storing

To dry the grass, gather the stems into small bundles and hang them upside down in a cool, dry area. Allow the grass to air dry for several weeks, or until the stems become brittle to the touch. Once fully dried, remove any excess foliage or debris and store the dried grass in airtight containers or decorative arrangements.

Creative Uses

Dried purple fountain grass can be used in various crafts and floral arrangements. Create stunning dried flower bouquets, wreaths, or centerpieces using the unique texture and color of the grass. Additionally, the dried grass can be used in outdoor or indoor decor to add a touch of natural beauty and elegance to any space.

With the right container, location, care, and a little creativity, you can successfully grow and enjoy the beauty of purple fountain grass in containers. Follow these guidelines, and soon you’ll be rewarded with a thriving and visually stunning addition to your garden or patio.

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