Monday, October 18th, 2010...12:00 am

Miscanthus: Ornamental Grasses

More Miscanthus in Our September Garden by UGArdener

TheGardenLady received this question from Joanne.

I am looking for a maintenace free ornamental grass. I need it to be about 4′ in circumfrance and about 7′ tall.  I live in zone 6 in connecticut. I don’t know what to buy. I have partial sun.

This year ornamental grasses seem to be having a great year. I just visited Grounds for Sculpture where they seemed to be dancing in today’s wind.

I am not sure what you mean by maintenance free. There is really no plant that is completely maintenance free, but grasses do require little effort to maintain. Some of these grasses have to be cut back when the new shoots are emerging or if the plant flops over.

You do not tell me how much sun you mean by partial sun or if the area for the grasses is for a dry or moist site.

Since you live in a cooler zone than some grasses like and since you do not have full sun, TheGardenLady thinks you should check out the grasses that are in the Miscanthus family.

I love these graceful plants so I think you are fortunate to have so many choices in one genus. Like most grasses, Miscanthus do best in full sun but some can tolerate partial sun. Too much shade and they will flop. This genus of grasses comes from Asia. Any plant that says sinensis in its Latin name means it is from China – in this case it means it also comes from other Asian countries, too. Many of our ornamental plants come from China and are very successful in the US.

Some people feel that one should plant native plants because some of these imported plants have become invasive in parts of this country. So far TheGardenLady has heard of this as a problem in the Middle Atlantic States with only one of the Miscanthus-Eulalia; and in this case, the invasive list just says Eulalia has the POTENTIAL to become invasive. But that is a warning. You have so many other choices, so do not worry.  See here.

It is wise to check with the invasive plant list before you buy any plant that is non-native to see if it has become a problem. Also, though grasses have been known to be relatively disease resistant, recently I have heard of some insects and a fungus that have hit some of the Miscanthus plants.  See here.

Now that TheGardenLady has given you some warning of problems with Miscanthus, here is a list that should work in your area and in partial sun.  The list is so extensive, I am envious. I wish I had more sun to grow these lovely grasses. With so many lovely plants, I hope it doesn’t make it too difficult to choose.

TheGardenLady and her readers would love to learn which grass you finally chose.

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