Karley Rose Fountain GrassPennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’
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Pennisetum orientale ‘Karley Rose’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Karley Rose Fountain Grass is a gorgeous mound of slender green leaves topped with long fluffy spikes of flowers from June to October. These begin a beautiful rose-purple with smokey overtones, gradually turning sandy-beige as they mature. A profusion of new stems keep rising up, and they are lovely to cut for a vase indoors. Growing to 3 feet tall it looks perfect among shrubs or perennial flowers and grasses are an essential part of every modern garden.
The Karley Rose Fountain Grass should be grown in full sun and in well-drained soil. Water regularly during hot and dry weather. It is normally free of pests or diseases and deer don’t bother it. A simple trim back to a few inches tall in fall or early spring is all the attention it needs to thrive. It is non-invasive and won’t take over your garden.
Some ornamental grasses are grown mainly for their foliage, while others are grown for their attractive flower heads. With the Karley Rose Fountain Grass you get both. Forming a beautiful clump of slender arching leaves, this non-invasive grass is graceful and elegant from the moment the new leaves push up in spring. It isn’t long, though before the flower heads come, with the first showing as early as June. This is also one of the longest flowering grasses around. Fluffy flower heads keep coming right into October, and they are gorgeous. Long fuzzy spikes rise gracefully above the leaves, each one a cylinder of smokey rose-purple. This vigorous grass soon becomes a striking mound of leaves and flowers 3 feet tall and wide, adding that special look to your garden beds that only grasses can bring.
The Karley Rose Fountain Grass is a clump-forming grass that is entirely non-invasive. It never spreads from the roots or turns into the monster that ate your garden. It stays as a dense clump, just expanding a little but never moving around to where you don’t want it. The long, slender leaves rise up and then out, forming an arching mound that really does look like a fountain of green about 2 feet tall. The first flower spikes generally appear in June, and they just keep on coming, until the plant is a sea of waving flower heads. The fluffy heads are over 5 inches long and rise above the foliage to a height of about 3 feet. Each head is packed with tiny, fluffy grass flowers, and these are a warm rose-purple color, with a beautiful smokey overtone – attractive and colorful but not bright and glaring. These soft tones blend with all other colors and foliage in your beds. As the flower heads develop they turn more sandy-beige, so through the later season these two colors appear together, making a very rich scene. In fall the leaves turn a warm yellow-brown to tan color, and remain attractive through most of the winter.
This bold and colorful grass is perfect for giving a modern look to your beds. Plant a single one, or in groups of 3 or 5, spaced 18 inches apart. It also looks fabulous as an edging on a large bed, and it blends well with both flowers and shrubs. For a very contemporary look grow it alone in a bed or beside a path or driveway. It also looks great on slopes, by walls and terracing, and in gravel-mulched beds with boulders and other sun-loving plants. In warmer zones it can be grown in planters, but it probably won’t overwinter successfully in a planter in cooler areas.
This grass is very reliably hardy from zone 7. In zones 5 and 6 it needs to be in a well-drained spot that doesn’t become wet or icy in winter.
Grow the Karley Rose Fountain Grass in full sun – it loves it. Avoid shady and damp places. This grass grows best in richer soils, but they must be well-drained, and it grows well in sandy soils that have been enriched with organic material. It is moderately drought-resistant once it is established, but it benefits from a regular supply of water during the hot months.
With lots of sun and suitable soil, the Karley Rose Fountain Grass is very easy to grow, and really doesn’t need much attention at all. Regular watering during summer, so that it doesn’t dry out too much, will keep the rosy colors of the heads showing much longer, delaying them turning beige. In warm zones it can be left standing all through winter and then cut back to a few inches tall. Do this before new stems appear, or they will be cut, spoiling the appearance. In cooler zones it is probably best to cut back in late fall, as snow and ice will often crush it, and the pile of old stems over the base encourages damp and decay. This plant is generally free of pests or diseases and deer leave it alone too, so it’s great for wild parts of the garden. That one cutting a year is all it takes to grow this grass perfectly.
There are several different species of Pennisetum grown in gardens, but you need to be a specialist to tell them apart. The Oriental fountain grass, Pennisetum orientale, grows wild in north Africa and through northern parts of the Middle East. In 1993 it received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from England’s Royal Horticultural Society. The wild plant has only a touch of pink on the flower heads, while the variety ‘Karley Rose’ has larger heads with much richer coloring. As often happens with grasses and perennial plants, its origin has been lost.
The modern garden must have grasses, and whether you are new to them, or already grow them, the Karley Rose Fountain Grass is a ‘must have’ and a great grass for every garden. Order your plants now, because the demand for grasses is phenomenal, and this beauty will soon all be gone.