Image by Linda N.
By Jackie Carroll
Purple love grass (Eragrostis spectabilis) is a Native American wildflower grass that grows throughout the U.S. and Mexico. It looks as good in the garden as it does in naturalized areas, and is often used in wildflower meadows. Both the growing requirements for love grass and care of purple love grass are easy. Let’s learn more about adding ornamental love grass to the garden.
What is Purple Love Grass?
Eragrostis purple love grass is a North American native bunchgrass that forms a neat, tight clump. It spreads by means of underground rhizomes and also from the abundant seeds that drop to the ground. Cattle will graze on purple love grass until the flowers bloom, but it is usually considered a weed when it is found in pastures.
Several species of grass, including some weeds, belong to genus Eragrostis. Purple love grass is an attractive cultivated ornamental grass that that works well as a ground cover, in borders, as an edging along pathways, as a textural accent and as an erosion control plant in sandy soils. It looks great in Southwestern landscapes and in combination with gray foliage plants.
The fine-textured grass is green in spring and summer, and becomes covered with a cloud of fine purple plumage containing tightly packed seeds. The plumage, which usually appears in late summer or fall, can add as much as 6 inches to the height of the plant, and from a distance it looks as though the grass is seen through a pink or purple mist. The effect is particularly striking in masses of plants.
The leaves turn purple and the flowers fade to white in the fall. The plumage eventually breaks away from the plant and rolls around like tumbleweed. The dried plumage can also be used as an accent in everlasting arrangements.
Growing Requirements for Love Grass
This ornamental love grass needs an exceptionally well-drained, preferably sandy soil. It prefers full sun but will also grow in partial shade as well.
From here you simply put them in the ground at the same planting depth as that of the container they came in and water thoroughly afterward.
Care of Purple Love Grass
Once the plants are established they are tough and need very little care. The plants tolerate drought and can even be used in xeriscaping. Watering and fertilizing are unnecessary.
Cut the plants back to just a few inches above the ground or mow them down in fall or winter to prepare for spring growth.
And that’s it! Eragrostis purple love grass is easy to grow, easy to care for and makes an attractive addition to nearly any landscape.