Portland Landscape Design and Tree Pruning Service

Miscanthus sinesis ~ Ornamental grass

One of my all-time favorite garden plants

2009 - Mario D. Vaden

Here are a few photos of one of my favorite ornamental grasses for gardens and landscaping: Miscanthus sinensis. There are some varieties of Miscanthus available, but this regular species plant is exceptional too.

miscanthus summer

This is an ornamental grass that we planted for our own home landscape, and used countless times for Portland landscaping at homes of other people. It has been reliable and durable.

This ornamental grass, Miscanthus sinensis, will probably need to be cut down to 3" to 6" tall stubs in the winter. It will depend on your region.

Don't compare this to pampas grass. Pampas grass leaves can flop over other plants and drag on the ground; it has very large stems that are hard to cut through in the cold season.

Miscanthus sinensis on the other hand, is not unruly like Pampas Grass. It has smaller stems. Power hedge shears crop-off the old foliage in moments, or hand pruners can be used also. We found that using twine to bundle prior to cutting helps. Grab a handful of stems and tie one end of the twine to those. Next, wrap around the entire plant a few times and tie-off the other end of the twine. Then cut with shears. The top may fall off as easy as fellling a trunk. That streamlines cleanup.

The images show seasonal changes and color of Miscanthus sinensis. In spring, it grows new stems / leaves. About October, the seed heads appear as mauve. A golden winter color develops in November to December. By January or February, you may decide to cut the plant back. We used to cut ours back to 6", but now cut to 24" so the groomed stems add character and fill a small shrub's worth of space until the next growing season..

At least in most of western Oregon and western Washington, the plants don't present a germination and weed seedling problem.

These are easy to divide. For example, a 2' wide clump can be divided in half or into quarters. One section can be lifted out and soil replaced, or an entire plant can be quartered. This would provide nearly the equivilent of 4 x five gallon plants..

After the plant reaches about 1' in diameter, it may be better to divide it with an ax, slicing down the middle. It's a bit firm for a shovel, and may hurt feet and ankles. But an axe will slice right through. The shovel, sharpened, works fine around the perimeter circle..

The small trees in one image are Tsuga mertensiana: mountain hemlock - naturally growing on many mountains of Oregon, Washington in the upper elevations. Other western states have these trees too. There are many trees and shrubs that make good companion plantings for Miscanthus sinensis. We have also grown varieties of Miscanthus that are variegated or very tall: to eight feet or more. All of them stood nicely.