By Bonnie L. Grant
Japanese forest grass plant is an elegant member of the Hakonechloa family. These ornamental plants are slow growing and require little extra care once established. The plants are evergreen and show best in a partially shaded location. There are several different colors of Japanese forest grass plants. Choose a color that enlivens the surrounding landscape when you are growing forest grass.
Japanese Forest Grass Plant
Japanese forest grass is an attractive, graceful plant that grows slowly and is not invasive. The grass gets 18 to 24 inches tall and has an arching habit with long flat, foliar blades. These arching blades sweep from the base and gracefully re-touch the earth. Japanese forest grass comes in several hues and may be solid or striped. Most varieties are variegated and have stripes. The variegation is white or yellow.
Golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra) is one of the more popular types and is a completely sunny, bright yellow variety. The golden Japanese forest grass is best planted in full shade. Sunlight will fade the yellow leaf blades to a white. The leaves get a pink tinge to the edges as fall arrives, increasing the appeal of this easy to grow plant. The following cultivars of golden Japanese forest grass are most commonly grown in the garden:
- ‘All Gold’ is a sunny golden Japanese forest grass that brightens up dark areas of the garden.
- ‘Aureola’ has green and yellow blades.
- ‘Albo Striata’ is striped with white.
Growing Forest Grass
Japanese forest grass plant is suitable for USDA zones 5 to 9. It can survive in zone 4 with heavy protection and mulching. The grass grows from stolens and rhizomes, which will cause it to slowly spread over time.
The plant thrives in moist soils in low light situations. The blades become slightly narrower at the ends and the tips may become dry or brown when exposed to bright light. For best results, plant it in moderate to full shade in a well-drained area with nutrient rich soil.
Caring for Japanese Forest Grasses
Caring for Japanese forest grasses is not a very time consuming chore. Once planted, Japanese forest grass is an easy to care for ornamental. The grass should be kept evenly moist, but not soggy. Spread an organic mulch around the base of the plant to help conserve moisture.
Hakonechloa doesn’t need supplemental fertilizing in good soils but if you do fertilize, wait until after the first blush of growth in spring.
When sun hits the blades, they tend to brown. So for those planted in sunnier areas, cut off the dead ends as needed to improve the appearance of the plant. In winter, cut back spent blades to the crown.
Older plants can be dug up and cut in half for quick propagation. Once the grass matures, it is easy to divide and propagate a new Japanese forest grass plant. Divide in spring or fall for the best plant starts.