Red Buttons Fountain Grass Pennisetum thunbergii 'Red Buttons'

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
fountain grass 'Red Buttons'


'Red Buttons' is a visually striking ornamental grass that showcases slender, arching foliage with a rich burgundy coloration. Its eye-catching quality is heightened in summer and autumn when it produces fluffy, bottlebrush-like flowers that emerge a brilliant red, resembling small buttons, hence the name. These flowers add a significant visual interest, creating contrasting textures against the dark foliage. The plant typically forms a clump of upright or gracefully arching leaves, offering a lush appearance, and it features a mix of red, purple, and green hues that can intensify under different lighting conditions or as the seasons change. The narrow leaves may exhibit a fine texture that brings elegance and a sense of movement to the landscape with every breeze. 'Red Buttons' adds drama to garden compositions with its striking color and distinctive floral display.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Synonyms

      Red Button Fountain Grass, Thunberg's Fountain Grass, Japanese Fountain Grass

    • Common names

      Cenchrus thunbergii, Pennisetum mesomelas subsp. thunbergii, Pennisetum setaceum var. thunbergii, Pennisetum thunbergii var. thunbergii.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Fountain Grass is not known to be toxic to humans. Therefore, ingesting parts of this plant is not expected to cause any symptoms of poisoning. However, as with any non-food plant, it is possible for individuals to have allergic reactions or experience gastrointestinal discomfort if parts of the plant are ingested. It is always advisable to avoid eating ornamental plants.

    • To pets

      Fountain Grass is not considered toxic to pets. It should not cause any symptoms of poisoning if a pet ingests parts of this plant. Despite this, it is still best to prevent pets from eating ornamental grasses, as they could potentially cause mechanical irritation or an upset stomach. If a pet ingests large amounts of plant material, it might experience gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting or diarrhea, due to the fibrous nature of the plant.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2 feet [60 cm]

    • Spread

      2 feet [60 cm]

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Appeal: 'Red Buttons' adds visual interest to gardens with its feathery, red-purple bottlebrush flowers and graceful arching foliage.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, it's highly tolerant of drought, making it suitable for xeriscaping or in regions with water scarcity.
    • Low Maintenance: The plant typically requires minimal upkeep, saving time and effort in garden management.
    • Pest Resistance: It's generally resistant to pests, reducing the need for chemical interventions in the garden.
    • Erosion Control: Its root system can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes or banks.
    • Attracts Wildlife: 'Red Buttons' can attract birds and pollinators, contributing to local biodiversity.
    • Seasonal Interest: Its foliage and flowers provide extended visual interest from summer into fall.
    • Adaptability: This plant can adapt to a variety of soil types, as long as they are well-drained.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Erosion Control: Red Buttons can be used to stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes due to its dense growth habit.
    • Thatching Material: The grass can be harvested and dried to create thatching for small-scale roofing applications in traditional crafts.
    • Sound Barrier: Planted in masses, Red Buttons can help reduce noise pollution by absorbing and diffusing sound waves.
    • Livestock Fodder: In some regions, this grass is grown as a source of fodder for livestock, particularly during times when other feed is scarce.
    • Craft Material: The dried flower stalks of Red Buttons can be used in floral arrangements and for making decorative crafts.
    • Accent Feature: The striking red color of the inflorescences makes Red Buttons an excellent choice for creating visual interest in gardens and parks.
    • Mulching: Dried leaves and stems of the plant can be used as a natural mulch to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture.
    • Photography Backdrop: The unique appearance of the plant makes it a popular choice for outdoor photography, providing a natural backdrop.
    • Pond Edging: Red Buttons can be planted around ponds or water features to provide a soft edge and prevent erosion.
    • Cultural Symbolism: In some cultures, the plant may be used in ceremonies or as a symbol of certain traditions due to its unique appearance.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Fountain Grass is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    Fountain Grass is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Beauty: The Pennisetum thunbergii 'Red Buttons', or commonly known as Fountain Grass, is often associated with beauty due to its elegant fountain-like shape and attractive fluffy flower heads.
    • Movement: As Fountain Grass sways gracefully in the wind, it can symbolize life's fluidity and the ability to move gracefully through changes and challenges.
    • Resilience: Fountain Grass is known for its durability and ability to thrive in a variety of conditions, symbolizing resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity.
    • Growth: Representing growth and expansion, as the plant reaches upwards and outwards, Fountain Grass can be seen as a symbol of personal growth and the pursuit of one's aspirations.

Every 2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every year
Spring-Early Summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    For Red Button Fountain Grass, water regularly to maintain a consistent moisture level, especially during the growing season. It typically thrives with about an inch of water per week, whether from rainfall or irrigation. During hot, dry periods, increase watering to twice per week, providing up to two gallons per plant each time to sufficiently saturate the soil. In general, deep, infrequent watering encourages deeper root growth and helps the grass withstand drought conditions. Make sure the soil drains well and does not remain saturated for prolonged periods to prevent root rot.

  • sunLight

    Red Button Fountain Grass prefers full sun conditions, where it can receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. The ideal spot is open and unobstructed by taller plants or structures that could cast significant shade. Some afternoon shade is acceptable in extremely hot climates, but generally, more sun leads to better foliage color and flowering.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The ideal temperature range for Red Button Fountain Grass is between 60°F and 80°F. It can typically survive minimum temperatures down to about 20°F, but it's not frost-tolerant and can die back in colder climates. At the upper end, this grass can tolerate heat well up to about 90°F, making it suitable for many temperate to warm regions.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Red Button Fountain Grass in late winter or early spring before new growth starts, cutting it back to about 4 inches above the ground to remove old foliage and make way for fresh growth. Annual pruning is important to maintain the plant's health and vigor and to keep a tidy appearance. The best time for pruning is just as the risk of hard frost has passed.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The best soil mix for Red Button Grass should be well-draining, with a mixture of loam, sand, and compost to facilitate root growth and drainage. The ideal soil pH for this ornamental grass is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 5.5 to 7.2.

  • plantRepotting

    Red Button Grass should be repotted every 1-2 years to refresh the soil and accommodate root growth. Spring is the optimal time for repotting to ensure the plant is well established during its active growing season.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Red Button Grass prefers average to low humidity levels. While it can tolerate some humidity, it's generally drought-tolerant and excessive humidity can lead to fungal issues.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Ensure full sun, well-draining soil, and regular watering for indoor growth.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in full sun, use well-draining soil, and water moderately.

    • Hardiness zone

      7-10 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The life of Fountain Grass 'Red Buttons' (Pennisetum thunbergii 'Red Buttons') typically begins with seed germination in the spring, triggered by suitable soil temperatures and moisture levels. Upon germination, the seedling emerges and develops its first true leaves, entering the vegetative growth stage where it forms a clumping grass structure with arching foliage. As it matures during the growing season, the plant starts to produce its distinctive long, narrow, bristly flower spikes, or inflorescences, which are initially green, then turning to a reddish hue that inspires the 'Red Buttons' nickname. Following pollination, which may be facilitated by wind, the plant sets seeds in late summer or autumn, completing its reproductive cycle. The grass usually enters a period of dormancy over the winter months, with the foliage turning brown if the temperatures are cold enough. In the next growing season, the cycle can repeat, or new plants may be propagated from divisions taken from the parent plant.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Propogation: The most popular method of propagating Pennisetum thunbergii 'Red Buttons', commonly known as fountain grass, is by seed. To propagate by seeds, they should be sown in spring after the last frost has passed to ensure that the seedlings will not be damaged by cold weather. The seeds require light for germination, so they should be spread on the surface of the soil and gently pressed in, rather than covered. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and maintain a temperature around 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 25 degrees Celsius) for optimal germination. Seedlings usually appear within 2 to 4 weeks and can be transplanted to their final positions once they have developed a strong root system and can handle being moved.