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Plant of the month: Fairy Tails

Super soft and fluffy, this ornamental grass just demands to be stroked

Pennisetum 'Fairy Tails'There are many virtues we admire in the plants we surround ourselves with; fragrance, beauty, fruitfulness – and many more. This month’s Plant of the Month is special in October because of the way it invites you to glide your hand over it. 

Pennisetum ‘Fairy Tails’ is full of grace and texture, with fluffy, feathery seed heads that stand proudly above gently arched leaves.

To be a little more descriptive, it’s an upright grass with flat, linear, pointed leaves and, in summer, narrow, pendent panicles of pink-flushed, golden brown spikelets. The genus Pennisetum gets its name from the Latin words penna meaning a feather and seta meaning bristle. 

Pennisetum 'Fairy Tails'This particular plant is a clump-forming semi-evergreen perennial that grows approximately 1.2m (4ft) high and 1m (3ft) wide. We grow it in full sun in a couple of beds in the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden with beautiful green foliage topped with soft, feathery spikes that look like pale pink brushes. It’s in a bed of its own but near neighbours of roses and herbaceous plants including beautiful blue Ceratostigma. We cut it back early in the year and it springs back to life.

If you grow it at home, try it in mixed or grass borders, and try cutting the flowerheads to enjoy in fresh or dried flower arrangements.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.