How Big (Tall And Wide) Does Purple Fountain Grow?

To add purple variety and color in a garden, both a purple fountain tree and purple fountain grass are great choices. These can create breaks in areas dominated by green or stand out as a specimen plant or feature areas in the garden. With the correct care purple fountain will bring a dynamic look to your garden.

A purple fountain tree can grow to an average height of 25 ft. tall and an average width of 15 ft. wide. Purple fountain grass reaches between 3 ft, to 5 ft. tall and 2 ft. to 3 ft. wide. The purple shades of these two plants make them favorites in many gardens.

Because both the tree and grass go by the name purple fountain it can be confusing in conversation when referring to one or the other. You can speak easily about both with this, clear guide on the differences between the two and all the information you need to plant and care for a purple fountain tree or purple fountain grass to achieve maximum results for both!

Difference Between A Purple Fountain Tree And Grass.

  • Purple fountain beech tree: This tree is a deciduous tree with a columnar shape. It has dark purple leaves with cascading branches and bronze-purple margins in the leaves. In the later parts of summer, the leaves often become greener. In fall the leaves turn yellow and then orange-brown.
  • Purple fountain grass: A tufted grass that grows 3-5 ft. tall with arcing spikes of burgundy and purple flower plumes that are found at the top of the plant. The plumes protrude from its mass of long, slender, burgundy-colored leaves. This grass is an annualin warmer zones or will be found growing from mid-summer to frost.
 Purple Fountain GrassPurple Fountain Tree
Plant Type:Ornamental grass, herbaceous annual, tender perennialTree
Native to:South and east Africa, Southwestern Asia, Arabian PeninsulaCentral and Southern europe woodlands
Seasons:Summer – fallSummer (spring bloom)
Exposure:Full to part sunFull sun to partial shade
Spacing:5 feet 
Height:2-4 feet15-25 feet
Spread:2-3 feet10-15 feet
Water Needs:Low to moderateWell drained with Medium moisture
Vegetation Color:Black, purple, red, pinkPurple, burgundy
Uses:Specimen, mass planting, borders, containers, cuttingSpecimen, pleaching, hedging
Family:PoaceaeBeech
Genus:PennisetumFaugus
Species:P. x advena ‘Rubrum’Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’
A comparison of purple fountain grass and trees.

How Quickly Does A Purple Fountain Tree Grow?

Purple violet painted tree
Purple violet painted tree

A purple fountain tree is a fast-growing tree in both full sun as well as partial shade and grows at a rate of 16-24 inches per year. As it is native to Europe, to achieve the fastest growth and best results the soil should be moist throughout the summer months. Ensure adequate drainage to maintain healthy roots.

In the case of using a purple fountain tree as hedges or pleaching, outward growth will be quick with pruning being necessary only once or twice a year.

A purple fountain beech tree does not commonly grow taller than 30 feet, it will reach a natural size of about 25 feet in 13-20 years. It will not usually grow taller than this in trees older than 20 years.

How To Train A Purple Fountain Tree For Best Growth

With all trees training and pruning can help the tree to grow to its full height and size more easily and quickly. The same is true of a purple fountain beech tree. Make sure the tree has been planted in the best soil conditions to stimulate growth in the first place (remember to plant it in full sun if you would like the deep purple coloring on the leaves). Then use these tips for training and pruning to help your purple fountain reach its full potential:

  • Completely remove branches that are growing straight down from the trunk or close to the trunk.
  • Identify all branches that are crossing each other and remove one of them. A tip for choosing which one to remove is to see which of the two is most at a right angle to the trunk and keep that one.
  • ‘Thin’ the whole tree by removing some of the outside branches from the top of the tree. If the tree is very tall or very full, consider removing some of the lower branches too.
  • To maintain a healthy root system, clear away all debris from the base of the tree, and water deeply.

How Quickly Does Purple Fountain Grass Grow?

Beautiful Purple fountain grass
Beautiful Purple fountain grass

From seed, purple fountain grass will take an average of 21 days to germinate at a temperature of between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit and then will reach full height in one year. If the plant is established (and trimmed to a few inches for the winter months) purple fountain grass will reach full size sooner.

To speed up the growth time of the grass give it an annual feeding of a slow-release, balanced fertilizer in spring. This will stimulate new growth and begin the growth cycle.

For best results a soil sample should be taken to see that the soil pH is neutral to acidic when planting. Make use of seed trays before planting out or ensure space in the flower bed, adequate drainage and good sunlight when seeding directly.

How To Keep Fountain Grass In The Winter

Unlike in its native habitat, where it is considered a perennial that will return each year, purple fountain grass is often considered a tender perennial or an annual in cooler regions. This does not mean the plant has to die off each year.

Rather than seeding new grass each year, it is possible to put the grass in a dormant state to quickly plant out in spring which will allow a shorter time for the purple fountain grass to reach full size and tuft well.

To do this, keep the plants in a cool (not freezing) dark location with slightly moist soil. The aim here is to keep the grass dormant. Throughout the winter the grass should neither be growing, nor should it be shriveling up. In mid-March, move the plants to a warm sunny spot to start growing again.

Make use of fertilizers when planting them out again.

Does Purple Fountain Grass Need Full Sun?

Many types of grass prefer full sun and this is also the case with purple fountain grass. It will tolerate a small amount of mottled to light shade, but for best results and to gain maximum height and size it prefers to be planted in full sunlight. In addition, the grass will achieve a deeper purple coloring when exposed to full sun and it will tuft well because of the preferred growing conditions.

To further aid this, plant the grass in an area where it will not be choked by other plants and where it will be the tallest grass or at least the same height as other grasses and plants. Being able to receive full sun on the entire plant will often mean the difference between healthy grass and struggling grass.

Can A Purple Fountain Tree Be Kept Small?

A purple fountain beech tree can be kept smaller than its full growth size by regular pruning in spring.

As is the case with any tree, selecting 2-3 main branches that occupy their own space on the tree and pruning in an upside-down ‘U’ shape over the tree itself. You can also train the tree to remain the size you wish it to be. A smaller tree will be useful if the space you have available is already full or smaller than a full-grown 25 ft. tree will allow.

Conclusion

Although they share the same name and one of their striking characteristics is a pleasing purple color, purple fountain grass and a purple fountain tree are very different plants. To use each of these well in a garden as a specimen plant or as a break in color from surrounding green then plant it and care for it correctly to achieve maximum height and width (tufting) and the best results of purple coloring.