Pennisetum messiacum 'Red Bunny Tails'

Common Name: fountain grass 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Reddish-pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10 where it may be grown as a perennial in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best performance is in full sun. Plants thrive in the heat and humidity of the deep South. In St. Louis, this grass will not survive winter and is typically grown as if it were an annual. Where not winter hardy, new plants are typically purchased from nurseries each spring for planting in the garden after last spring frost date. Technically plants can be dug in fall, trimmed and overwintered in greenhouses or indoors in sunny cool areas, but many gardeners simply prefer to purchase new plants each spring. Provide consistent water throughout the growing season.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pennisetum messiacum is a tender perennial fountain grass that is native to southwestern Asia and Australia. Overall clump appearance is reminiscent of water spraying from a fountain, hence the common name of fountain grass.

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

'Red Bunny Tails' is a cultivar which features narrow green grass blades in a tidy upright clump to 20" tall. In summer, showy, fluffy, reddish-pink flowers bloom in spikes resembling bunny rabbit tails atop upright flowering stems rising above the foliage clump to 32" tall. Flower spikes persist well into fall.


No serious insect or disease problems.


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