Content Detail

Chinese silver grass is known by many names, including maiden grass, eulalia, Japanese silver grass and miscanthus.  It has been used widely in many landscapes and a great number of cultivars have been developed. Of the numerous cultivars, most are hardy to zone 5, while some are hardy to zone 4. This grass should be used with caution. In some parts of the United States, this grass has spread into natural areas by seeding and is considered invasive in those areas.  Review of risks should be undertaken before selecting this grass.

  • Family (English) Grass
  • Family (botanic) Poaceae
  • Tree or plant type Grass, Perennial
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Clay soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought, Occasional flooding, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early fall, early summer, early winter, late fall, late summer, late winter, mid fall, midsummer, midwinter
  • Flower color and fragrance Other, Pink, Red, White, Yellow
  • Shape or form Arching, Upright
  • More information

     

Size and Form:

This grass can grow  up to 8 feet tall in flower, but the size will vary by cultivar. It has an upright to arching habit. It is a warm season, clumping grass.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to Japan, China and Korea.

Leaf description:

The leaves are up to 1 inch wide and up to 3 feet long. They are medium green with a very distinct white midvein (many cultivars have striped or banded foliage.) Autumn color depends on the cultivar.

Flower description:

Flowering time is mid-summer into early autumn (usually July to September) and varies, depending on cultivar. The tiny flowers are held in tassel-like clusters that are held above the foliage. The clusters vary in color, depending on cultivar. 

Fruit description:

The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) form along the tassel-like structures that held the flowers. The fruiting structure takes on a silvery color and a fluffy appearance for winter.

Plant care:

Best growth is in moist soils and full sun. The amount of soil moisture varies between the cultivars. Some are more tolerant of dry soils while some are more tolerant of wet soils. 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:

Miscanthus mealybug (insect) and rust (fungal disease) are possible problems. The grass can go to seed and spread into natural areas. Consequently,  it is considered invasive in some areas.

Adagio silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Adagio’):

A compact cultivar growing 4 feet tall (5 feet in flower) with  rosy pink flowers and leaves with some burgundy color in fall. Hardy to zone 5.

Autumn Light silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Autumn Light’):

Grows to 7 feet tall (8 feet in flower) with reddish pink flowers in late summer. Hardy to zone 5.

Blondo silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Blondo’):

Grows to 6 feet with coarse foliage. Yellowing flowers mature to silvery white. Hardy to zone 4.

Bluetenwunder (Wonder Blooms) silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Bluetenwunder’):

This cultivar grows 5 to 6 feet tall and is drought tolerant. It is a heavy bloomer with pinkish white flowers and golden brown fall color. Hardy to zone 5.

Dixieland silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Dixieland’):

A compact cultivar growing 4 to 5 feet tall with pinkish flowers and green and white variegated foliage. Hardy to zone 4.

Dwarf maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Yaku Jima’):

A dwarf cultivar that grows 3 to 4 feet tall. The tan flowers have a red tinge and emerge in late summer. Hardy to zone 5.

Flame grass (sold as Miscanthus sinensis  ‘Purpurascens’, but now classified as Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens‘):

Grows 4 to 5 feet tall; flowers tinged with red emerge in late summer; foliage turns orange red in fall and then changes to a darker red for winter, serving as a backdrop for the cream-colored seed heads; hardy to zone 4.

Gold Bar silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gold Bar’):

A compact cultivar growing 4 to 5 feet tall with burgundy flowers that appear late (in autumn). Foliage is  green foliage with horizontal gold banding. Hardy to zone 5.

Gold und Silber (Gold and Silver) silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gold und Silber’):

A more narrow form, growing 5 to 6 feet tall.  Gold flowers appear late (autumn) and mature to silver. Hardy to zone 5.

Gracillimus maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’):

A fine textured cultivar with thin leaves growing 5 to 6 feet tall. Deep pink to copper flowers appear in late summer and yellow fall color. Drought tolerant and hardy to zone 5.

Graziella silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Graziella’):

A fine textured cultivar with thin leaves that grows 4 to 5 feet tall (6 feet tall in flower). Silvery white flowers appear in midsummer and a coppery red fall foliage color. Hardy to zone 5.

Little Kitten dwarf silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Kitten’):

A dwarf cultivar, growing 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall (3 feet tall in flower) with an arching, mounded form. Flowers are silvery white with a hint of pink and fall foliage color is golden.Hardy to zone 5.

Little Zebra silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Zebra’):

A dwarf cultivar, growing 3 feet tall (4 feet in flower) with reddish-purple flowers in early autumn. It has green foliage with horizontal gold banding and is hardy to zone 4.

Malepartus silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Malepartus’):

Grows 5 feet tall (7 feet in flower); flowers in midsummer and flowers start out pink, then change to red and then silver as they mature; fall foliage color is bronze; drought tolerant; hardy to zone 5.

Morning Light silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’):

A fine textured cultivar with thin, silver-variegated foliage.  Grows 5 to 6 feet tall with bronzy flowers appearing in mid-fall. Hardy to zone 5.

Nippon silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Nippon’):

Grows 4 to 5 feet tall and flowers in midsummer. The flowers start out, change to red and, finally, white at maturity. Fall foliage color is reddish-bronze and it is hardy to zone 5.

Porcupine grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus’):

Grows 5 to 7 feet tall (up to 8 feet in flower). Coppery flowers are produced in early fall and leaves are green with gold banding. Overall form is more stiff and upright and it is hardy to zone 5.

Rotsilber (Red-silver) maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Rotsilber’):

Grows 4 to 6 feet tall (7 feet in flower). Flowers emerge pink-red and mature to silver and fall foliage color is orange-red. Hardy to zone 4.

Sarabande maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Sarabande’):

A cultivar with narrow leaves and a finer overall texture. It is 4 to 5 feet tall (6 feet in flower) with gold-copper colored flowers appearing in late summer and maturing to silvery white. Hardy to zone 5.

Silberfeder (Silver Feather) silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Silberfeder’):

This cultivar grows 5 feet tall (7 feet when in flower) and has a more relaxed, arching habit.  large clusters of silvery flowers, held well above the foliage, appear in late summer. Hardy to zone 5.

Variegated silver grass  (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’):

Grows 5 to 6 feet tall (7 feet in flower). Red-tinged flowers appear in early fall and leaves  are green with white stripes. The form can be a little floppy. Hardy to zone 4.

Zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’):  

Grows 5 to 7 feet tall (up to 8 feet in flower). Coppery flowers are produced in early fall and leaves are green with gold banding. Overall form is loose and relaxed. Hardy to zone 5.

 

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