A family of large vigorous, clump-forming perennials. One of the most widely grown groups of ornamental grasses in the UK.

Family: Poaceae or Gramineae
Botanical Name: Miscanthus
Common Names: Silver Grass, Maiden Grass

Foliage: Deciduous or evergreen. Slender, upright, arching mid green leaves, usually with a paler mid rib.

Flowers: Striking large feathery flower plumes. Long flowering period.

Flowering Period: Mid-summer to early autumn.

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (Chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun. Plant in a north, east, west or south facing aspect.

Habit: Bushy, tufted, upright.

Type: Perennial.

Origin: Asia.

Hardiness: Hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Miscanthus

Silver grass thrives in moist fertile soil and looks particularly attractive when planted near to water. Protect from excessive winter wet.

Popular as a specimen plant in open areas or mixed with other perennials in beds and borders. Tall forms can be used as a screen or windbreak.

The large flower plumes are good for dried flower arrangements.

Taking Care of Miscanthus

Easy to grow. Needs very little care and attention once established. Despite their height, Silver grasses do not need staking.

Pruning Miscanthus

Remove dead or damaged foliage and spent flower stems in spring. Can be cut back hard in late winter to rejuvenate growth. Wear gloves and protective clothing to protect from grass cuts.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest free. The leaves can be affected by powdery mildew.

Propagating Miscanthus

Easily increased by dividing established clumps in spring.

Varieties of Miscanthus Grown in the UK

Varieties offer a choice of green, yellow or white striped leaves. Many have attractive silky flower plumes.

Miscanthus 'Purpurascens' bears tall feathery plumes of rich copper-red above clumps of narrow, green, arching foliage. Height to 59in (150cm), spread to 39in (100cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.

Miscanthus sacchariflorus (Amur silver grass) is a tall hardy species that makes a useful windbreak or sun-screen. The mid-green leaves are narrow and semi-arching. Height up to 10ft (3m). Variety 'Variegatus' is an attractive form with white stripes on the leaves.

Miscanthus sinensis is a vigorous hardy species bearing elegant narrow blue-green leaves with a white mid rib. Height from 3-8ft (1-2.5m). A wide range of garden cultivars are a available:

  • 'Ferner Osten' forms an arching clump of slender green foliage, which turns copper-red in autumn. Red plume-like flower panicles emerge in summer, which turn pinkish and then silvery as they mature. A magnificent grass for a large garden. For sale at Crocus.
  • 'Gracillimus' bears green finely textured tall foliage, topped with beige plumes. Deciduous. Height: 5 to 7ft. For sale at Van Meuwen.
  • 'Little Zebra' a popular form with attractive gold striping and fluffy plumes of deep red-pink flowers. For sale at You Garden.
  • 'Malepartus' bears fine, arching leaves with a distinctive white stripe down the centre. Reddish brown, silky feathery flowers in late summer. Leaves turn a beautiful reddish-brown in autumn. Great for prolonging interest in the garden. Height to 6ft (2m) or more. For sale at Crocus.
  • 'Morning Light' has fan shaped, delicately variegated foliage. Long flowering season. Red flower plumes fading to white. Deciduous. Prefers wet soil. Height: 4 to 6 ft. For sale at Crocus.
  • 'Purpurascens' (Flame Grass, Purple silver Grass) is a compact plant with tall silvery plums. Early flowering silvery plumes. Good autumn colour. Deciduous. Moist wet soil. Height: 3 to 4 ft.
  • 'Silberfeder' (Silver Feather Maiden Grass) is a tall and showy clump forming grass, topped by early blooming, silvery-white, plumes. Deciduous. Height: 5 to 6ft. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
  • 'Silberspinne' a lower growing form that produces spidery panicles of bronze tipped flower-spikes, which slowly fade to silver. For sale at Van Meuwen.
  • 'Strictus' (Porcupine Grass) bears upright green and yellow-banded leaves that resemble porcupine quills. Copper tinted plumes fade to silvery white in autumn. Prefers wet soil. Deciduous. Height: 5 to 7ft. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
  • variegatus (Japanese Silver Grass) is a green and white stripped grass with pink flowering plumes. Deciduous. Tolerates hot dry conditions. Height: 5 to 7ft.
  • 'Zebrinus' has lateral golden yellow stripes crossing the leaves at intervals. The tall flower plumes are long lasting, making an elegant focal point that will last well into winter. Height to 59in (150cm), spread 35in (90cm). For sale at Van Meuwen.

Miscanthus x giganteus is a tall, vigorous, deciduous perennial grass, that produces sprays of arching, grey-pink flowers in September and October. Height to 12ft (3.5m). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.