218 Pennisetum macrostachyumCommon Names: fountain grass , giant burgundy fountain grass, burgundy giant fountain grass Family: Poaceae (grass Family)
'Burgundy Giant' looks a bit like a red-leafed corn plant! It is more upright growing than other pennisetums and bears unusually large, foxtail-like pendulous flower heads, up to 12 in (0.3 m) long. The leaves are bronzy burgundy and more than 1 in (2.5 cm) wide. Stems are broad and strong for a pennisetum, and the clump, 4-5 ft (1.2-1.5 m) tall, is less fountain-like than most. 'Burgundy Giant' grows quite fast and spreads nicely, and can even be grown to good effect outside its zones as an annual.
'Burgundy Giant' was found growing at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. It is believed to be a variant of Pennisetum macrostachyum, which is native to the East Indies including Borneo and New Guinea. (Some authorities consider P. macrostachyum to be a synonym of P. setaceum).
CulturePlant 'Burgundy Giant' in a protected area because this grass is very tender to frost and also to avoid wind, which tears the leaves. Cut back in early spring just before new growth begins. Light: Sun preferred. Moisture: Moist but well drained. Keep watered in dry spells. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 10. 'Burgundy Giant' will be killed by even a light freeze, but it grows so fast it can be grown as an annual in cooler climates. It can reach full size in a single growing season even in zone 6. Propagation: 'Burgundy Giant' rarely sets viable seed. Propagate by division during warm weather. Stems also may be rooted in sand or other moist, well drained media.
Use in combination with other grasses or in front of taller shrubs for a marvelous contrast in color and texture. Plant light or bright colored flowers in front. Daylilies are especially striking against the red background! 'Burgundy Giant' is often planted in containers. Ever versatile, 'Burgundy Giant' leaves, stems with leaves, and flowers are excellent additions to flower arrangements, and the flower heads dry nicely.
Red foliage, large flower heads, fast growing clumps - this is the boldest of all the fountain grasses.
Steve Christman 08/17/97; updated 8/18/00, 9/6/09