Adding structure and interest to the fall and winter garden, Miscanthus sinensis (Japanese Silver Grass) are fabulous ornamental grasses that should have a spot in any garden. Traditionally used in Japan in decorative art and gardens, Miscanthus made a royal entrance into occidental gardens about a century ago, thanks to the spectacular feathery plumes towering above their graceful arching foliage and their year-long interest in the garden.
Native to China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Miscanthus sinensis are sun-loving deciduous grasses that have become so popular that they are now available in a wide range of lovely cultivars varying in height, leaf width, leaf color or flower plume color. Their erect, airy, plumed seed heads are typically produced in late summer (August or September) or early fall (October) and range from pale silver through to buff and to deep purplish-red depending on the variety. Shining in the summer sun, they all fade to silver within 3-4 weeks and turn soft and fluffy. They generally retain their good-looks well into the winter, providing a charming and architectural display.
The species form of Miscanthus sinensis is invasive in several US states. The invasive potential is of less concern for many of its ornamental cultivars, some of which are sterile. However, as a general rule, do not plant more than one cultivar on your property, and use only a vegetatively propagated cultivar that has shown little or no evidence of self-seeding in your area.
When it comes to selecting the right Japanese Silver Grass, the task may become daunting as there are over 150 varieties of Miscanthus sinensis to choose from. Below is a selection of the best and most distinctive Japanese Silver Grasses that could become the highlight of your garden. Many have been acknowledged by the Royal Horticultural Society as plants of outstanding excellence for garden decoration through its Award of Garden Merit (AGM).