Is Purple Fountain Grass Invasive? Exploring its Impact on Ecosystems

Is Purple Fountain Grass Invasive
Is Purple Fountain Grass Invasive

Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) is considered an invasive species in certain states within the United States. However, please note that invasive species designations can change over time as new information becomes available. It’s always advisable to check with local authorities and experts for the most up-to-date information regarding invasive species in your specific area.

At the time of writing, Purple Fountain Grass is known to be invasive in states such as California, Arizona, Florida, and Hawaii (National Park Service). These regions have designated it as a problematic species due to its ability to spread rapidly and outcompete native plants, potentially causing ecological disruption.

If you are considering planting Purple Fountain Grass in your garden or landscaping, be sure to check with your local agricultural extension office, native plant society, or department of natural resources to determine whether it is classified as invasive in your specific state or region. They can provide guidance on suitable alternatives that are non-invasive and better suited to the local ecosystem.

Characteristics of Purple Fountain Grass

Purple fountain grass, also known by its scientific name Pennisetum setaceum, is a unique and ornamental grass species. Native to Africa, this grass has gained popularity for its striking purple foliage and elegant fountain-like appearance.

Plant TypeOrnamental Grass
Scientific NamePennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’
Height & SpreadHeight: 2-4 feet
Spread: 2-3 feet
Sun ExposureFull sun to partial shade
USDA Growing ZonesZones 9-11
Soil TypeWell-drained soil
Soil pHNeutral to slightly acidic (pH 6.0-7.0)
Bloom TimeSummer to fall
Flower ColorReddish-purple or burgundy

Spread and Distribution

Purple fountain grass has spread beyond its native range and can now be found in various parts of the world. It has been introduced to different regions through human activities such as horticulture and landscaping. The grass has proven to be adaptable and can thrive in diverse environmental conditions.

The spread of purple fountain grass is facilitated by several factors. Seeds can be dispersed by wind, water, and animals. Humans unknowingly transport the seeds through gardening practices or movement of contaminated soil. Once established, the grass can rapidly colonize disturbed areas and outcompete native vegetation.

Purple Fountain Grass

Ecological Impact

The invasiveness of purple fountain grass poses ecological concerns. As an aggressive species, it has the potential to outcompete native plants for resources such as sunlight, water, and nutrients. This can lead to a decrease in biodiversity, as native plants struggle to survive and may even be pushed towards extinction.

Furthermore, the alteration of habitats caused by purple fountain grass can disrupt the natural balance of ecosystems. Native wildlife that depends on specific plant species for food and shelter may suffer as their habitat is transformed. This disruption in ecological relationships can have far-reaching consequences on entire food webs.

Management and Control

Controlling invasive species like purple fountain grass is a challenging task. Various methods are employed to manage its spread, including mechanical removal, herbicide application, and ecological restoration. However, complete eradication is often difficult due to the grass’s adaptability and resilient nature.

Prevention plays a crucial role in managing invasive species. It is essential to raise awareness among the general public, gardeners, and landscaping professionals about the potential risks associated with purple fountain grass. Implementing regulations to restrict the import and sale of invasive species can also help prevent their introduction and spread.

Policy and Regulations

Many regions have recognized the threat posed by invasive species and have implemented policies and regulations to address the issue. However, the effectiveness of these measures varies. Some regions have successfully restricted the sale and cultivation of purple fountain grass, while others struggle to enforce regulations or lack adequate policies altogether.

To tackle the invasiveness of purple fountain grass effectively, policymakers must work closely with scientists, ecologists, and stakeholders. Collaborative efforts can lead to the development of comprehensive strategies that consider the ecological impact, local context, and long-term sustainability.

Where is the best place to plant purple fountain grass?

Here’s a table outlining the best places to plant Purple Fountain Grass

Full SunPurple Fountain Grass thrives in full sun, so choose a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
Well-Drained SoilThis grass prefers well-drained soil, so avoid areas with heavy clay or soil that retains water.
Moderate WateringWhile Purple Fountain Grass is relatively drought-tolerant once established, it still requires regular watering during the initial growth period. Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot.
Landscaping BedsPlant Purple Fountain Grass in landscaping beds as an accent or focal point, where its vibrant purple foliage and feathery plumes can stand out.
Container GardensIt can also be planted in large containers or pots to create a stunning display on patios, decks, or balconies. Ensure proper drainage in containers.
Coastal AreasPurple Fountain Grass can tolerate coastal conditions, including salt spray, making it suitable for gardens near the coast.
USDA Hardiness ZonesPurple Fountain Grass is typically recommended for USDA hardiness zones 8-11, where it thrives in warmer climates.

Remember to consider the specific growing conditions in your region and adapt the planting location accordingly. These recommendations can serve as a general guide, but local climate and soil conditions should be taken into account for optimal growth.


When does purple fountain grass bloom?

Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) typically blooms during the warmer months of the year. The exact timing of its bloom may vary depending on factors such as climate, geographical location, and specific cultivars. In general, purple fountain grass starts to produce its characteristic feathery plumes in late spring or early summer and continues blooming throughout the summer and into the fall. These plumes, which are often a rich reddish-purple color, add to the ornamental appeal of the grass and can create a stunning visual display in gardens and landscapes. It’s worth noting that the bloom period may be influenced by local conditions, and some cultivars of purple fountain grass may have slightly different flowering patterns.

How tall is Purple Fountain Grass?

Purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) typically reaches a height of about 3 to 5 feet (approximately 0.9 to 1.5 meters). However, it’s important to note that the height can vary depending on several factors such as growing conditions, cultivar, and region. In optimal conditions, with ample sunlight, water, and nutrients, purple fountain grass can achieve its maximum height potential. The plumes or inflorescences of the grass may extend even higher than the foliage, creating an additional visual element to its overall appearance. Gardeners and landscapers often appreciate the upright growth and height of purple fountain grass, as it adds drama and texture to the landscape.

READ MORE: Is Purple Fountain Grass a Perennial


In conclusion, purple fountain grass possesses characteristics that make it a potential invasive species. Its spread beyond its native range can have detrimental effects on ecosystems, including the displacement of native plants and disruption of ecological relationships. Managing the invasiveness of purple fountain grass requires a combination of prevention, control measures, and effective policies. By staying vigilant and taking action, we can protect our ecosystems from the negative impacts of invasive species and preserve the natural biodiversity of our planet.

Rachel Lean
Rachel Lean

Adventurer, loving nature and plants, particularly Pampas Grass. Happy to share with other people the knowledge that I accumulated on the journey of my life.