Content Detail

Purple love grass is a Midwestern native that produces reddish-purple flowers and fruit that hang over the plant like a cloud. This is a warm season, clumping grass.

This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Grass
  • Family (botanic) Poaceae
  • Tree or plant type Grass, Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Medium plant (12-24 inches), Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9, Zone 10
  • Soil preference Dry soil, Sandy soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Purple, Red
  • Shape or form Mounded

Size and form: 

Purple love grass forms a dense mound of leaves about 12 to 18 inches tall. When the flower stalks arise, the plant will be 2 to 3 feet tall.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

C-Value: 3. Native to most of the United States. This grass is found in a number of different habitats, most often in dry or sandy soils.

Leaf description:

Leaves arise from the base of the plant and are 6 to 12 inches long and 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. They are green in summer, picking up a reddish tinge in fall before turning brown.

Flower description: 

The tiny flowers are reddish-purple and held on branched clusters hanging above the foliage like a reddish cloud.  Flowering time is summer. Flowers are wind pollinated.

Fruit description: 

The small fruit (caryopsis or grain) form along the branched clusters that held the flowers.

Plant care:

Purple love grass makes its best growth in drier, well-drained soils. It is fairly tolerant of heat and drought. This is a warm season grass, so its most active growth occurs in summer. It will remain standing in winter and can act as winter interest. Since this grass remains attractive through winter, it should not be cut back until early spring, before new growth begins. At that time, it can be cut down to the ground.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

There are no serious pest problems, but the plant self sows easily providing the potential for excess plants.

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