Richard C. Bogren, Owings, Allen D.
News Release Distributed 05/01/15
By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist
HAMMOND, La. – With spring in full swing, it’s time for another Louisiana Super Plant announcement from the LSU AgCenter.
Fireworks, a red-foliaged variety of purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum), is the second Louisiana Super Plant for 2015 – joining the sun-loving Henna coleus that was announced earlier.
Louisiana gardeners have been growing purple fountain grass for many years. Now, new and improved fountain grasses are on the market. These are generally annuals in Louisiana. In warmer winters, however, fountain grass may return in the spring and behave as a tender perennial in warmer parts of south Louisiana.
The unique foliage on Fireworks, the low maintenance of this great ornamental grass and its spring-through-fall exceptional landscape performance make this plant a logical Louisiana Super Plant selection.
Plant Fireworks in full sun. A raised landscape bed with good drainage is ideal because most ornamental grasses don’t like standing water or waterlogged soils. These plants are drought-tolerant and need little to no irrigation during the season. Hot weather is no problem for this Gulf Coast-adapted variety. And Fireworks has no insect or disease problems in the landscape.
The foliage is dominantly red with a small amount of white and green streaking. The attractive flower plumes are pale reddish purple and begin appearing by early summer and last until first killing frost. This feature gives a nice vertical element to a landscape bed and adds height to a perennial or annual flower bed.
Fireworks will reach a height of 48 inches by early fall with a spread of 30-36 inches.
Fireworks has two fountain grass cousin varieties – Sky Rocket and Cherry Sparkler. The collective group is called the Celebration series.
Warm-season Louisiana Super Plant flowers that would work well in landscape beds with Fireworks fountain grass include BabyWing begonias, Bandana lantanas, Butterfly pentas, Little Ruby alternanthera (Joseph’s coat), Senorita Rosalita cleome, Serena angelonia, Luna hibiscus (rose mallow) and Mesa gaillardia (blanket flower). All perform well when planted in mid- to late spring.
Louisiana Super Plants are “university tested and industry approved.” The two spring 2015 selections and all the past choices can be relied on to create colorful warm-season and cool-season Louisiana landscapes. Two more Louisiana Super Plants for 2015 will be announced this fall.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.