Miscanthus - Maiden Grass for the Garden

Miscanthus - Maiden Grass for the Garden

A tough and beautiful ornamental grass

By Published August 05, 2016 Updated May 08, 2023

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The following article is part of a series geared toward entry-level gardeners. For deep dives into a variety of perennials that we have sold over the decades, visit our archive of in-depth perennial articles written by Tony Avent, Dr. Patrick McMillan, and other Plant Delights and JLBG experts. We also have transcripts of our Gardening Unplugged videos, recorded during our Open Nursery and Garden Days, that have great information for gardeners of all experience levels.

If you're a beginning gardener and looking for a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow, look no further than miscanthus. Miscanthus is a genus of ornamental grasses that are known for their hardiness, beauty, and versatility. With minimal care and attention, these grasses can thrive in a variety of growing conditions and add texture and visual interest to any garden or landscape. Whether you're new to gardening or simply looking for a reliable plant that requires little effort, miscanthus is an excellent choice that is sure to impress. In this article, we'll explore the many benefits of growing miscanthus and offer tips and tricks for cultivating these beautiful grasses in your own garden.

Top Miscanthus Grass Questions

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about miscanthus:

What is miscanthus?

Miscanthus is a genus of ornamental grasses that are known for their hardiness, beauty, and versatility. They are commonly grown in gardens and landscapes for their attractive foliage, plumes, and tolerance to a wide range of growing conditions.

Is miscathus a perennial?

Yes, miscanthus is a perennial plant, which means it lives for multiple years and grows back each year from the same root system. In colder climates, the above-ground portions of the plant may die back during the winter months, but the root system remains alive and will send up new growth in the spring. Miscanthus is known for its hardiness and can live for many years in the right growing conditions.

Is miscanthus easy to grow?

Yes, miscanthus is easy to grow and requires minimal care and attention. It can thrive in a variety of growing conditions and is a great choice for beginning gardeners or those looking for a low-maintenance plant.

How do I plant miscanthus?

To plant miscanthus, choose a location in your garden that receives full sun and has well-draining soil. Plant in spring or fall, dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball, and about the same depth as the container. Water regularly to help establish the roots.

How do I care for miscanthus?

Miscanthus requires minimal care and attention. Water regularly until established, fertilize once or twice a year with a slow-release fertilizer, prune in late winter or early spring, and divide every few years to prevent overcrowding.

Can miscanthus be invasive?

Miscanthus is generally not considered invasive, but some cultivars have been known to spread and self-seed. To prevent spreading, choose non-invasive cultivars and avoid planting in areas where it may escape into natural areas.

How tall does miscanthus grow?

Miscanthus can grow anywhere from 3 to 15 feet tall, depending on the cultivar. Some varieties are more compact and stay around 3 to 4 feet tall, while others can reach up to 15 feet tall or more.

Is miscanthus deer resistant?

Yes, maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis), also known as Chinese silver grass, is generally considered to be deer resistant. While no plant is completely immune to deer browsing, maiden grass has a low palatability to deer due to its tough, fibrous leaves and the fact that it contains silica, which makes the leaves less palatable. This means that deer are less likely to eat it compared to other plants in the landscape. However, it's important to note that hungry deer may still nibble on maiden grass if there are no other food sources available, or if the population is high and they are looking for additional food options. It's always a good idea to use multiple deer-resistant plants in your landscape to provide a more diversified and robust defense against deer browsing.

What other plants can be grown alongside maiden grass?

Maiden grass pairs well with a variety of perennial flowers and other ornamental grasses. Try pairing Miscanthus with other ornamental grasses like Muhlenbergia capillaris, commonly known as Pink Muhly Grass, for an interesting and textural look to your garden.

How to Grow and Care for Miscanthus (Maiden Grass)

Miscanthus is an easy-to-grow and low-maintenance plant that can thrive in a wide range of growing conditions. Here are some tips on how to grow and care for miscanthus:

Choose the right location: Miscanthus prefers well-draining soil and full sun exposure. Choose a location in your garden that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day and has well-draining soil. Avoid planting miscanthus in areas with standing water or heavy shade.

Plant in spring or fall: Miscanthus can be planted in either spring or fall. When planting, dig a hole that is twice as wide as the root ball and about the same depth as the container.

Water regularly: Water newly planted miscanthus regularly to help establish its roots. Once established, miscanthus is drought-tolerant and does not require frequent watering.

Prune in late winter or early spring: Miscanthus should be pruned in late winter or early spring before new growth appears. Cut back the previous year's growth to about 6 inches above the ground.

Divide every few years: Miscanthus can become crowded over time, so it's a good idea to divide it every few years. To divide, dig up the plant and use a sharp knife or shovel to separate the clumps into smaller sections. Replant the sections in the desired locations.

Overall, miscanthus is a low-maintenance and easy-to-grow plant that can add beauty and interest to any garden or landscape. With proper care and attention, your miscanthus plants will thrive and provide enjoyment for years to come.

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