Spotlight On: Maiden Grass, Winter Darling Of New Jersey Landscapes

By December 15, 2019 Plant Spotlight
Spotlight On: Maiden Grass, Winter Darling Of New Jersey Landscapes

Tired of the winter doldrums? Want more than just the sturdy evergreen for companionship during these cold days? Think there’s no hope for color and excitement until spring? Think again! In our “Spotlight” series, we’re highlighting plantings that offer four seasons of visual interest, whether that’s in the form of color, texture, or depth, and certainly in overall beauty.

In a prior post we featured Red and Yellow Twig Dogwood, one shrub in your choice of two stunning colors to brighten up your winter landscape. If you missed it, you’ll definitely want to go back and catch up! This shrub is one that no landscape should be without.

Today we’re featuring something totally different – a grass, in fact. It’s called Maiden Grass, and not only is it a winter beauty but it never requires mowing! Read on to find out more about this New Jersey favorite and why it can be the perfect companion during cold winter days and long winter nights.

zebra maiden grassMany Kinds Of Beauty

The technical name for this popular ornamental grass is Miscanthus sinensis, and it comes in many varieties, from tall to dwarf, quill-like to feathery-light. Some have yellow banded stems, some white and silver. Some stand elegant and regal, while others are tufted and playful. There are varieties that grow well as privacy shields along a border line, and some that are compact enough to be used in container gardens on your porch.

The bottom line is that there’s a variety for every garden!

Maiden Grass is a great addition to your landscape year-round but really stands out during the starkest months. During fall, its foliage begins to turn golden yellow and even orange, fading to a subtler beige during winter. Wispy, feathery flowers bloom above the foliage from late summer through fall. These plumes can be found in colors across the spectrum from silvery to pink, bronze, and even reddish and deep purple. These plumes will fade to beige as winter approaches, but don’t worry, their glory days are just beginning!

The foliage and flowers will persist all winter long, towering gracefully above the landscape, swaying in the slightest breeze, adding texture and motion to an otherwise silent scene. And once you’ve seen Maiden Grass dusted with snow, each delicate blade of grass, every frond of its plumes covered in a powdery white, you may just start wishing for winter to last a little longer.

mixed ornamental grassesCare & Maintenance

This ornamental beauty has its preferred conditions – moist but well-drained soil, full sun – but it’s hardy enough to survive in even less favorable conditions. It doesn’t mind intense summer heat, which makes it a good complement to the dog days. Once established, it’s also drought tolerant, making it an incredibly hardy and low-maintenance addition to your garden. It can even grow in partial shade, though its stems will be thinner and it may “flop over” if there is too much shade.

It’s also a bug-free zone – you won’t need to battle pests no matter how dense your cluster, and this grass is even deer- and rabbit-resistant. As an added bonus for us coastal folks, it’s also tolerant of the salty air and humidity that accompanies seaside towns. That makes this particular grass a whole lot more attractive from a maintenance standpoint than its stubby green alternative.

If you’ve just planted this four-season delight, be sure to keep the soil well-watered throughout its first year. That will help it establish long, healthy roots that will serve it well during future dry spells. Fertilize sparingly, once a year during spring, or you’ll end up with weak stems that fall over.

Prune only in late winter to remove old, dry growth and promote new, healthy growth during spring. Otherwise, leave your grass to bow and sway and dance in all its magnificent, slender height all winter long.

feathery maiden grassWhy We Love It

As if all those reasons weren’t enough, Maiden Grass shines in even more ways. It’s fast growing, in dense clumps that make it perfect for borders, privacy screens and impatient gardeners! It won’t take Maiden Grass long to become an established and well-loved part of your landscape.

Since Maiden Grass thrives best in moist soil, that makes it a wonderful addition to your pond’s edge. It also works well around streams, waterfalls and other water features.

It’s also a desirable habitat and safe haven for wildlife, including birds, butterflies and other beneficial garden insects (think ladybugs, not swarms of gnats!) That gives you just another bit of enjoyment to look forward to.

It’s ideal as a focal point, and pairs perfectly with a wide array of other foliage and flowers, from Coneflowers of myriad colors in summer, to Asters and Dahlias in fall.

A grass that’s versatile enough to look great on its own, or in combination with other ornamental grasses, that works beautifully with myriad types of plantings and blooms, that’s easy to care for, and that comes in so many varieties that you can create a truly unique look for your space – what’s not to love?

Once you’ve witnessed its elegance and had a moment to appreciate the color, texture, height and motion that it brings to your space, we’re sure that Maiden Grass will truly become one of the most memorable parts of your winter landscape.

If you’d like to learn more about this lovely grass, or if you have questions about how it can work in your space, contact us for a consultation. We’re eager to share the beauty and enjoyment that it can bring!