Miscanthus sinensis - Miscanthus
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)

Hear the scientific name

Miscanthus sinensis is known as an upright to arching, ornamental grass. Maiden Grass has many cultivars that differ in their foliage, inflorescence color, texture, bloom period, and mature height.

Alternate common name: Chinese Silver Grass

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  form Form

-perennial ornamental grass

-dwarf cultivars are 3' tall, most cultivars range from 4-8' tall, and giant cultivars range from 9-15' tall

-upright columnar to upright arching growth habits

-slow to emerge in spring, but with a rapid growth rate thereafter

foliage Foliage

-linear blades of foliage initially arise directly from the crowns, in an upright then arching habit, and later arise from the vertical stems in an alternate fashion, becoming shorter as they progress up the shaft

-depending upon the specific cultivar, the arching blades may range from 0.25-2" wide, and 3-5' long, sometimes with variegation on the medium-green foliage that is silver, white, cream, or yellow

Flowers
flowers

-inflorescences unfurl atop the central vertical stalks, and differ among the numerous cultivars in terms of their time of emergence (late July until frost), color (silver, gold, pinkish, purplish, reddish, or a mixture thereof), separation from the upper foliage (well-separated or immersed within it), and winter persistence (usually persistent, but sometimes slowly shattering)

-inflorescences somewhat resemble corn tassels in their appearance, but are usually much more dense and arch to one side of the stalk

Fruit
fruit

-small grains are hidden within the fruiting structure (which is usually thought of as the spent inflorescence), and usually do not self-sow

Twig

-not applicable

Trunk

-not applicable

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Culture

-full sun to partial sun

-most Maiden Grass cultivars prefer full sun in occasionally moist to mostly dry, well-drained soils, but are very adaptable to harsh conditions once established, including poor soils, compacted soils, soils of various pH, and especially to heat and drought

-propagated primarily by division of the crown of a parent plant

-Grass Family, with virtually no disease or pest problems

-abundantly available in container form, featuring about 10 cultivars in common circulation from about 40 total

-allow the frost-killed portions to remain throughout the dormant season, as the tan-colored foliage, stalks, and fruiting heads have great winter interest

-shear the dead portions back to 3" above the ground by mid-Apr. (use gloves when handling the subtly serrated foliage), to allow the new growth to emerge unhindered

-about every 3-4 yrs., propagate by division of the clump into several pieces in early spring, after shearing the dead foliage away, and discard the center of the clump which has died

-when used as a privacy screen, remember that this function will disappear from the months of Apr. through June due to early spring shearing of the dead foliage, and the height of the new foliage will not reach "screening proportions" until about July

-when sited near bodies of water, Miscanthus sinensis should not have its roots in the water table, as it does not tolerate wet or permanently moist soils; however, Miscanthus sacchariflorus, along with some other perennial grasses, do well at the water's edge or in the water

Hardiness

-zones 5 to 9 for many cultivars, but some are only cold hardy to zones 6 or 7

Origin

-species form is native to Eastern Asia

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Assets

-very urban tolerant, especially to heat, drought, and poor soils

-numerous cultivars that differ in height, foliage variegation, and floral color

-excellent for its swaying in gentle breezes

-winter appeal of the dead foliage and fruiting heads

-rapid establishment

Liabilities

-yearly maintenance requirement of early spring shearing and cleanup of dead foliage, stalks, and fruiting heads

-dying out of the center of the clump with age

Function

-often used as a specimen or focal point, but also commonly found at foundations or entranceways, along borders, in group or mass plantings, in raised planters, near bodies of water, or as privacy screens

-important from a design standpoint, where "movement in the landscape" (referring to its swaying in the breezes) is an important element

Texture

-fine, medium, or bold texture, depending upon cultivar

-thick density

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species

Alternates

-other ornamental grasses of upright growth habit, and generally in the 4-6' height range (Calamagrostis acutiflora, Panicum virgatum, etc.)

 


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