palm grass Setaria palmifolla 'Rubra' Visited my favorite garden center today to buy a clematis, which I did. Two actually. But then as I was ready to check out I screeched to a halt and did an abrupt about-turn. There on a table of tender offerings was one of the most spectacular plants I’d encountered in a many a moon — palm grass (Setaria palmifolia ‘Rubra’).

Though I initially resisted because there I was already one plant over my intended “limit.” But I knew I wasn’t going to leave that nursery without that stunning plant.

I mean, just look at it! Those krinkled leaves, those ruby-throated blades, who could resist such a unique plant? This tropical gem is from South Africa, home to some of the most amazing plants on the face of the planet. The tag that came in the pot says it grows to three to four feet high and prefers partial shade and a moist, well-drained environment. Research showed that palm grass is native to a lot of places, including India and New Zealand where it is considered invasive. I’ll keep that in mind.

palm grass

My specimen is only about six inches tall right now, and noticing the size projection triggered a memory of a visit to Leu Gardens in Orlando, FL. A border of a similar plant caught my attention there, though it was not labelled and I never found what it was. Those leaves were all green but of a similar shape and form. Now I suspect it is another variety of palm grass, and gives me a good idea of its cold tolerance, which I discovered was fine for Zones 9-10.

It also can come indoors during the winter in colder climates. What a find!