Winter Care For Fountain Grass [How-To Guide]

Figuring out the best way to care for your plants can sometimes be confusing. For example, do you have fountain grass that you need to prepare for winter? Are there specific steps you need to take to ensure your grass survives colder conditions? Luckily, we've done plenty of research into this topic and have the answers below!

Since fountain grass can live through mildly cold periods, overwintering yours shouldn't be too challenging. Generally, this grass variety is hardy down to USDA zones 4-5 if protected and prefers to be closer to zone 10 conditions.

Therefore, your fountain grass may wilt and die if the weather gets below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If that is the upcoming forecast, try and cover your grass with a thermal tarp or relocate it indoors. You don't want to let the freezing air overpower your grass.

In this article, we will cover how to overwinter fountain grass and discuss the best options for colder areas. Whether you live in zones 4–5 or somewhere with mild winters: we're here to help. With that said, let's dive right in!

Winter Care For Fountain Grass [How-To Guide]

How Do You Overwinter Fountain Grass?

Horizontal banner of Mesmerizing Purple fountain ornamental grasses waving in the hot summer afternoon sun, Chicago suburb, Zone 5

One of the best ways to overwinter fountain grass is to wrap it in a thermal/fleece covering or relocate it to a garage, greenhouse, or your home. You could try keeping your fountain grass in pots, so it can be moved indoors.

As we mentioned, fountain grass doesn't respond well to freezing or below-freezing temperatures. Even though the grass is technically hardy in zones 4-5, that doesn't mean it enjoys or reacts well to temperatures in the low 10s and below.

This ornamental grass is often called a tender perennial because of its sensitivity to long cold periods. For example, it will be fine if your fountain grass sees a few 30-degree days during winter

Typically, fountain grass will become damaged and die if the weather drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It should live through mild winter seasons and come back to life in the spring.

Valibe Plant Freeze Protection Thermal Cover

This thermal plant covering measures 10 x 30 feet, works for rows or individual plants, and is made with polypropylene. The cover will protect your plants from frost. It can be cut to the size you need and comes in a few different options.

Follow this link to view the cover on Amazon.

Can Fountain Grass Survive Snow And Frost?

Since snow and frost generally happen around 30 degrees Fahrenheit, you can expect your fountain grass to handle both. That said, your fountain grass won't enjoy too much of either.

One of the leading killers of fountain grass in winter is moisture mixed with extreme cold. Therefore, before snows or frosts, try covering your plant.

Suppose it recently snowed in your garden. Once that snow begins to melt, it will penetrate the soil, reaching the roots of your fountain grass.

Usually, that is fine, but if the weather were to become freezing while there's water in the ground, the root system of your fountain grass could freeze.

Is It Normal For Fountain Grass To Turn Brown In Winter?

Horizontal banner of shimmery purple ornamental grasses as focal point with pink mandevilla and a blue garden bench in the background.

It is normal to see the tips of your fountain grass turn brown as winter sets in. Especially if it is cold where you live, you can expect slight discoloration on your plant.

Many experts call this grass's way of signaling that it's "sleeping" or going dormant. Remember, fountain grass is a tender perennial, meaning it can survive the cold, not extreme winters.

If you notice browning on your fountain grass, this is also an indicator that it's the end of the growing season for your plant. This is 100% normal and should happen when the temperatures fall.

With that said, if your fountain grass turns entirely brown and feels brittle, that could mean there's an issue. For example, browning could be shock if you recently had a freezing or below-freezing day and didn't protect your fountain grass.

If you continue to let your plant sit in below-20-degree conditions, browning will worsen, and your plant will likely die. So, brown tips are typical, while entirely brown and brittle fountain grass is not.

Is My Fountain Grass Dead Or Dormant?

When it comes to seeing if fountain grass is dead or dormant, this is pretty easy. You will need to perform a quick test on your grass, which will go like this:

  1. Locate the fountain grass in your yard.
  2. Grab a section and try pulling it from the soil.
  3. If the grass comes out easily: it's dead. If there's resistance: it's alive.

One thing to note is that when your fountain grass dies, it won't have any resistance to being pulled. For example, if you try removing a section of your fountain grass that comes out without any problem, it has likely died in the cold.

A slight "tug" back from your grass indicates it is dormant and will return in the spring. Considering fountain grass should survive moderate winters, yours will have a bit of pushback if you try and pull it.

Of course, don't expect your grass to put up a fight if you aggressively pull it, but it should feel like it's tied down into the soil.

Should You Continue Watering Fountain Grass In Winter?

fountain grass wallpaper. soft focus

No. You don't need to continue watering your fountain grass during the winter. Since it will be dormant, giving your grass water can confuse the plant.

This grass will only need routine watering during its growing seasons. So, in the spring, summer, and fall, you will want to regularly give fountain grass proper watering.

In the wintertime, however, that's when it's okay to neglect your vegetation. Since the conditions are already poor for plant growth, adding water or fertilizer to fountain grass is pointless.

However, if you are in a warmer USDA zone with mild winter conditions, this is when caring for your fountain grass becomes different. Many experts suggest keeping the soil moist through winter in warm regions, as this will help your grass continue growing.

Again, this will come down to your location, so everyone's winter care schedule will be unique.

Should I Cut Back Fountain Grass In The Winter?

Since fountain grass falls into a warmer season category, you should be able to trim it during dormant periods. According to experts, you want to wait to cut back fountain grass until it has stopped growing.

Therefore, winter is the best time for doing this. On top of that, you can trim the top from fall until growth resumes in the spring on your fountain grass plant.

You also may not need to do any pruning, as some fountain grass can continue growing at a slower rate if the winter is moderate. Someone in Florida will likely see their fountain grass grow through November, December, and January, while someone else in Michigan won't.

Zones ten and above typically have winters that don't get colder than 40-50 degrees on average, meaning they get to enjoy their perennials far longer than people in cooler zones.

Where Is The Best Place To Grow Fountain Grass?

Ornamental Chinese fountain grass by name Pennisetum Alopecuroides Red Head, photographed in early autumn with a macro lens at a garden in Wisley near Woking in Surrey UK. Orange geum flowers behind.

Locations with warm and moderate winter weather are the best places for growing fountain grass. Since this plant species is warm-leaning, you don't want to have your fountain grass fighting for its life during the winter season. Generally, this grass thrives in weather between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

The sun is also a close friend of fountain grass, so the more it gets, the better it will do. Try and keep your fountain grass somewhere with plenty of full sun exposure. USDA zone 10+ tends to be ideal for fountain grasses.

To Finish Up

Whether you're new to growing fountain grass or have had yours for years, overwintering it is crucial. We found that gardeners need to cover their fountain grass if the temperatures drop below 20 degrees.

Furthermore, it can be beneficial to relocate your grass inside during harsh winter weather. This species is warm-leaning, so if it's cold out for too long, you could run into problems.

It's also crucial to protect your fountain grass from moisture during the wintertime, as it is dormant. Good luck gardening, and hello, warmer temperatures!

And while we have you, check out these helpful related plant posts:

Monkey Grass Vs. Mondo Grass: Similarities And Differences

Ornamental Grasses For Full Sun In Pots [15 Ideas For Your Landscaping]

How To Overwinter Gardenia – In Pots And In Ground

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