Melinis nerviglumis

Common Name: Bristle-leaved red top  
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Native Range: Africa
Zone: 9 to 10
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. In St. Louis, it is grown as an annual. It is best grown in light, well-drained soils in full sun. It needs consistent moisture, but prefers soils that are slightly on the dry side. Sow seed directly in the garden after last frost date. For earlier bloom, start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date. Set plants out after last frost date. Clumps can be potted up in fall before first frost for overwintering indoors in cool areas with reduced watering. Ripe seed may also be collected for planting the following year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Melinis nerviglumis, commonly called ruby grass, pink bubble grass or bristle-leaved red top, is native to Africa. It is a tropical grass that grows in tufts to 24” tall and 15” wide and features erect blue-green leaves with panicles of ruby pink summer flowers that slowly fade to white. Flower panicles are covered with silky hairs. Foliage turns purple-red in fall.

The genus name is derived from the Greek meline meaning millet.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Beds and borders. Mass plantings. Containers. Flower arrangements.