Pennisetum x ‘Black Stockings’

‘Black Stockings’ has beautiful wide leaves that are a deep purple in color which reflex gracefully on a vase shaped plant that quickly stands out in a landscape. It does not flower and is resistant to leaf spot that can be seen on older varieties. It is very heat and drought tolerant and is perennial in some portions of the state. It is similar in appearance to ‘Princess Caroline’ napier grass but grows much taller.

Exposure: Full sun exposure is best for leaf color development.

Size: Height — Grows from 8 to 12 feet tall depending on amount of watering and length of the growing season.

Plant type: Perennial to USDA Zone 9a. Can likely be perennial further north if planted in a protected location. Used as an annual in north Texas and the High Plains.

Planting time: Best in spring. Can be planted in summer from large containers.

Soil type: Almost any well drained soil.

Suggested uses: Can be used as a specimen plant or an accent plant in mixed borders, but best as a quick growing screen or background plant. 

Special notes: Plants freeze to the ground, but make rapid growth in the spring to make a strong statement in the landscape. In north Texas, it can be overwintered if the temperatures are mild and it is grown in a protected location, but is not as cold hardy as ‘Princess Caroline’. Very little fertilizer is needed to get this plant to perform. Nitrogen fertilizer will cause the leaves to green up and lose the striking purple foliage that is a hallmark of this great plant. Cut back foliage when browned by frost as there is little winter interest. 

AgriLife Today article: “Black Stockings napier grass newest Texas Superstar: Ornamental grass provides variety of uses, performs well in arid conditions”