Miscanthus sinensis
Common Name: Chinese silver grass
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Native Range: Eastern Asia
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 4.00 to 9.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to February
Bloom Description: Pink to red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Good Cut, Good Dried
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Attracts: Birds
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Black Walnut, Air Pollution

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of a wide range of soils from well-drained sandy soils to the heavy clays present in much of the St. Louis area. Prefers moist soils. Best in full sun. Less vigorous with decreased flowering and tendency to flop in too much shade. Tolerant of summer heat and humidity. Clumps slowly expand in circumference by short rhizomes, but typically retain tight clump shape. Foliage should be left standing throughout the winter for visual interest and crown protection. Cut foliage close to the ground in late winter just before new shoots appear. Propagate by division of the crown. This grass will reseed to the point of being somewhat invasive in the milder parts of its growing range. Mulch helps prevent reseeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Miscanthus sinensis, commonly known as Chinese silver grass, Japanese silver grass or eulalia grass, is a clump-forming warm season grass that typically grows to 3-7’ tall. It is native to lowlands and lower alpine areas in Japan, Korea and China. It has escaped gardens and naturalized in over 25 states in the Central and Eastern U.S. east of the Mississippi River plus in several western States including Colorado and California.

This grass features a dense clump of upward-arching stems and leaves which give it a rounded, fountain-like appearance. Linear leaves (to 3-4’ long and 3/8” wide) have tapered tips, serrate margins and whitish to silvery midribs. Foliage often turns attractive shades of yellow to orange by mid-fall before gradually fading to beige-tan for winter. Pink to red flowers in feathery, whisk-like, loose terminal panicles (8-10” long) bloom above the foliage from late August to October. Flower panicles gradually turn beige by mid-fall as the seeds mature. Flower panicles and foliage both retain good arching shape, beige color and ornamental interest throughout winter, with enhanced attractiveness often coming from a covering of new fallen snow.

Miscanthus sinensis will spread somewhat invasively in the landscape, particularly in some of the milder areas of its growing range. It often initially spreads to disturbed sites such as roadsides, railroad right-of-ways or woodland margins. Invasive potential for the species is significant, but is of less concern for many of the numerous ornamental cultivars, some of which are sterile.

Genus name comes from the Greek words miskos meaning a stem and anthos meaning flower in reference to the stalked spikelets.

Specific epithet means Chinese.

This grass was once included in the genus Eulalia, but was subsequently reclassified to the genus Miscanthus with retention of its common name of Eulalia grass by many gardeners.

Problems

No frequently occurring insect or disease problems. In some areas of the U.S., miscanthus mealybug and miscanthus blight are becoming significant problems. Miscanthus mealybug causes stunted growth and is difficult to eradicate because it lives inside the stems. Miscanthus blight is a fungal disease which attacks the blades and sheaths. Leaf rust may occur.

Garden Uses

Versatile ornamental grass. Accent, specimen or small grouping. Borders, meadows, wild gardens, cottage gardens, naturalized areas or pond/water garden peripheries. Dried flowers are long lasting.