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.
Hardiness: Hardy in the UK.
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.
Easy to grow. Needs very little care and attention once established. Despite their height, Silver grasses do not need staking.
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.
Generally pest free. The leaves can be affected by powdery mildew.
Easily increased by dividing established clumps in spring.
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:
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.