Ornamental Maiden Grasses: How To Grow Maiden Grass

maiden-grass
Image by Matt Lavin

By Bonnie L. Grant

Miscanthus sinensis, or maiden grass, is a family of ornamental plants with a clumping habit and graceful arching stems. This group of grasses has added appeal in late summer with spectacular plumes and in fall with bronze to burgundy colored foliage.

Miscanthus maiden grass is easy to care for and hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9. There are numerous maiden grass varieties with different sizes and foliage colors. Bring one of these elegant grasses into your home landscape for powerful dimension, color and movement.

Miscanthus Maiden Grass

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Maiden grass thrives in full sun and may get 6 feet wide with a 10 foot spread.

The grass requires well-drained soil, but is tolerant of excess moisture, dry conditions, acidic soils and even hard clay sites.

Ornamental maiden grass is excellent used in containers, but more commonly planted in groups or as a border or along the edges of beds. Miscanthus maiden grass has a very regal appeal and provides elegant décor to flank the front entry or along the driveway. Just remember how tall and wide the grass will get and give it enough room to mature.

How to Grow Maiden Grass

Propagation of ornamental maiden grasses is through division. You may dig up a mature plant in early spring before new growth has appeared. Cut the root base into two to four sections and plant each as a new plant.

You can do this every three years or more, but it is important to do it when the center of the plant is showing signs of dying out. This is an indicator that it is time to divide the grass. Rejuvenated plants result from division and they have a tighter clumping habit.

If you want to know how to grow maiden grass from seed, get ready for a wait. Sow seeds indoors in a flat with a lid. Keep the soil in the flat lightly moist and place the flat in a warm area at least 60 F. (16 C.). The baby sprouts will grow slowly and you will not have a Miscanthus maiden grass big enough to plant outside for at least a year. Your best bet is to find a buddy with a grass and cut out a piece for yourself.

Maiden Grass Care

Maiden grass care couldn’t be simpler. The plants have no known pest or disease problems, except rust. Rust is a fungal disease that is transmitted to leaves when water splashes onto them.

Water the plants from under the foliage and when the leaf blades will have time to dry off quickly.

Maiden Grass Varieties

‘Condensatus’ is a variety that can get 8 feet tall and has coarse foliage. ‘Gracillimus’ is a delicately leaved cultivar with a more upright growth habit. For colorful displays, ‘Purpurescens’ is red in summer and purplish red in fall, while ‘Silver Feather’ has shimmering whitish silver inflorescences.

There are variegated varieties with horizontal yellow or white stripes, or vertical stripes along the leaf margins. Compact types are usually only 3 to 4 feet tall and suitable for containers. Do a little research on the many maiden grass varieties and choose the right one for your garden location.

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