Pennisetum orientale 'Tall Tails'
Common Name: fountain grass
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: Pinkish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Black Walnut, Air Pollution

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to light shade. Best in full sun. Tolerates part shade, but may not flower in too much shade. Prefers sandy loams and regular moisture with good drainage. Avoid heavy clay soils. Established plants tolerate some drought. Cut foliage to the ground in late winter before new shoots appear. Species plants are only winter hardy to USDA Zone 6.

‘Tall Tails’ is generally considered to be winter hardy in the St. Louis area (USDA Zones 6A-5B).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pennisetum orientale is a warm season fountain grass that is native to Asia. It is an ornamental grass that typically forms graceful, spreading foliage clumps to 18” tall and as wide of narrow, gray-green leaves (to 1/4” wide). Showy, fluffy, pinkish-white flower spikes arch upward and outward from the foliage clump in late summer like water spraying from a fountain, hence the common name. Flower spikes rise well above the foliage to 2.5-3’ tall. Flower spikes persist over a very long bloom period from early June to August before eventually disintegrating. Foliage changes to yellowish-tan in fall, and usually remain attractive throughout the winter.

Genus name comes from the Latin penna meaning feather and seta meaning bristle in reference to the flowers having long, feathery bristles.

Specific epithet means of the Orient.

‘Tall Tails’ is a vigorous cultivar that grows much larger than species plants. Including flower spikes, it typically grows to 4-5’ tall. Cultivar name is in reference to the attractive flower spikes that purportedly resemble tails.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Specimen, group or mass. Foliage and attractive flower spikes of this ornamental grass provide excellent texture, color and contrast to borders, foundations and open areas.