Fact sheet: Ruby Grass

Common Name: ruby grass
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Ruby pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 8-10. It is best grown in light, well-drained soils in full sun. It needs consistent moisture, but prefers soils that are slightly on the dry side. Sow seed directly in the garden after last frost date. For earlier bloom, start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date. Set plants out after last frost date. Clumps can be potted up in fall before first frost for overwintering indoors in cool areas with reduced watering. Ripe seed may also be collected for planting the following year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Melinis nerviglumis, commonly called ruby grass, pink bubble grass or bristle-leaved red top, is native to Africa. It is a tropical grass that grows in tufts to 24” tall and 15” wide and features erect blue-green leaves with panicles of ruby pink summer flowers that slowly fade to white. Flower panicles are covered with silky hairs. Foliage turns purple-red in fall.

The genus name is derived from the Greek meline meaning millet.

‘Savannah’ is a showy ornamental grass that forms small clumps of soft blue-green foliage that turns red in fall. Its 3 to 4 in. long, fluffy plumes of ruby pink flowers slowly fade to creamy white. The blooms carry well into fall and can be used for fresh or dried flowers. It grows 1/2 to 1 ft. tall and 3/4 to 1 ft. wide with the blooms about 1 ft. above the foliage.


No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Beds and borders. Mass plantings. Containers. Flower arrangements.

Planted in Nassau County Extension Demonstration Garden


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Posted: October 17, 2018

Category: Home Landscapes
Tags: Annual, Demonstration Garden, Melinis, Melinis Nerviglumis 'Savannah', Ornamental Grass Nerviglumis, Ruby Grass

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