Grown for its handsome and eye-catching foliage, Hakone Grass (Hakonechloa macra) is a long-lived, tough, ornamental grass that, unlike most grasses, loves moist shady conditions. Native to Japan, its foliage forms attractive, loose cascading mounds of gracefully arching, slender leaves that ripple in the slightest breeze. Ranging from solid green, to bright gold to creamy variegated throughout the spring and summer, the soft foliage changes to exquisite copper-orange shades in the fall as cooler weather sets in. Delicate looking flowers appear in mid to late summer but are generally unnoticed among the leaves. Hakone Grass is invaluable for adding multi-season interest, color and texture to the shade garden.
While extraordinarily good-looking on its own, Hakone Grass however looks most stunning when planted with companion plants.
Choose the right companion plants and extend the season of interest of your garden
Surrounding your Hakone Grass with a succession of flowers and foliage plants will reinforce the beauty of their foliage and extend the season of interest of your landscape. Here is the list of favorite companion plants for your Hakone Grass.
- Hellebores (Helleborus), with their dark green foliage, are lovely partners for creamy variegated and golden selections of Hakone grass ('Aureola', 'All Gold', 'Alboaurea'). The brilliant leaves of these grasses will be heightened by the contrasting rich green foliage of the hellebores. Prized for their abundant winter or early spring blooms, Hellebores also provide gardeners with some of the greatest pleasures in winter.
- Astilbes are fabulous plants for shady, moist conditions and magnificent partners for Hakone Grass. Attractive all season long, their mounds of fern-like foliage provide a lovely contrast with the slender, arching leaves of Hakone Grass. Admired for their graceful, colorful flower plumes rising elegantly above the foliage, Astilbes light up the shade garden for weeks and add a dazzling splash of color.
- Bursting with flowers, hardy geraniums also enjoy a lush foliage which adds valuable texture in the garden. Incredibly tough, pest and disease resistant, they give a lot and require very little. Most bloom profusely over a very long season, extending from early spring to late fall (if cut back hard after the first flush of blooms starts to fade in early summer). Among the favorites are Geranium 'Patricia' and 'Rozanne'.
- The delicate and pretty flowers of Aquilegia (Columbines) and Astrantia (Masterwort) create charming combos with their elegant blooms rising with elegance above the Hakone Grass foliage mounds.
- Foliage plants such as Asarum europaeum (European Wild Ginger), Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle), Heuchera (Coral Bells), Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo Grass), Ferns with their graceful fronds, Hostas with their smooth leaves, Carex (Sedges) and Polygonatum (Solomons' Seal), help create the most spectacular and multi-season combinations of color, shape and texture. Here are some knockout duos:
Hakone Grass 'Aureola' with Hosta 'June', 'Frances Williams', 'Halcyon' or 'Hadspen Blue'.
Hakone Grass 'Alboaurea' with Heuchera 'Plum Pudding', 'Plum Royale', 'Silver Scrolls'.
Hakone grass 'Aureola', 'All Gold' or 'Alboaurea' with Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (Black Mondo Grass)
- Interplant Asters, Actaea (Baneberry), Sedums or Tricyrtis (Toad Lily) to enjoy a lovely fall display and create a powerful statement.