Spotlight On: Miscanthus Giganteus, A True Winter Landscaping Giant

By December 31, 2019 Plant Spotlight
Spotlight On: Miscanthus Giganteus, A True Winter Landscaping Giant

So far in our Spotlight series, we’ve highlighted two winter jewels, the Red and Yellow Twig Dogwood, and Miscanthus Sinensis, more commonly known as Maiden Grass. Both of these add color, texture, depth, charm and visual beauty to your landscape all year, but are especially effective during the drearier winter months. If you missed out on these two, go back and read them now! We promise you’ll thank us when you’re gazing out over a colorful, gorgeous winterscape instead of dull monochromatic monotony.

Today we’re featuring another Miscanthus, and this one’s a giant – literally! Towering above your landscape at up to twelve feet tall, this ornamental grass is sure to delight you through the snowiest and blowiest days of winter.

Want to know more about what this grass is and why it’s so special? That’s just what we’ve got in store today!

miscanthus frondA Gentle Giant

Yes, Miscanthus Giganteus can reach a full 12 feet in height – that’s 10 feet of grass blades topped by another 2 feet of fluffy, flowery goodness. But rather than growing in rigid lines, it arcs softly, picking up every breeze and gust, its fan-like plumes dancing in the air.

Its wide leaves begin as a lush green during warm months, turning a deep, burnt orange during fall, before fading to a subtler shade of sandy light brown during winter.

After blooming during late spring, it spends its early days as lovely clumps of greenery until September when its signature silvery plumes appear. As a late bloomer, it pairs perfectly with other early-blooming ornamental grasses, and provides a stunning backdrop for your summer perennials. As you enjoy its soothing greenery, you can look forward to wonderful fall color, but best of all, this grass will persist all winter, providing texture, height and visual interest.

Miscanthus can take up to three years to reach its full height, but don’t worry – it can reach between 6 and 8 feet in its first year alone. That’s enough height to add plenty of winter interest to your garden almost immediately.

miscanthus foliageCare & Maintenance

Miscanthus prefers full sun and well-drained, fertile soil but it’s tolerant of a wide variety of conditions except for overly-wet or swampy soil. You can plant in sandy soil by adding fertile components such as peat or compost, or plant in clay-like soil by adding sand. You can even add sand around the plant’s roots in wet soil to make uncooperative soil more habitable.

Mulching will go a long way to keeping a more even level of moisture during summer months and will also help keep weeds and competing vegetation away.

Take extra care to keep your new planting consistently and evenly moist but well-drained, and use a slow-release fertilizer. Once your plant is established after its first year, it will be drought tolerant and even better adapted to excess moisture.

Whatever you do, don’t prune this beauty too soon! It will fade and dry out, but retain its foliage and plumes through most of the winter, adding motion, texture and elegance right through February. You can trim back old, peeling foliage then, or wait until spring. Simply tie the tops together like a giant ponytail and snip about 6-10 inches from the base. Be careful not to cut away the new grass growing up at the center.

Keep Miscanthus properly watered over time, give it full to mostly sun and include fertilizer – these few simple steps will ensure that you’ll be rewarded with many seasons of year-round beauty and special winter interest.

miscanthusWhy We Love It

We love this robust plant simply because it looks great year round, especially during the winter months when you’re otherwise convinced that everything is going to look dull and dead until spring. The sound and motion of its leaves in the wind is a multi-sensory pleasure. Its blades remain upright all winter long and it holds up remarkably well to the most punishing winds and snows.

It makes great dried arrangements, too. Snip a few plumes for a vase or container and you’ve got instant indoor beauty as well as outdoor interest.

Given its height, Miscanthus is perfect as a privacy screen or border, putting up a lovely barrier between your space and everything else beyond. Block out traffic noise, nosy neighbors, or just create a backdrop for a landscaped pool area, fence or patio along the edge of your property.

As an added bonus, this grass is a sterile hybrid so isn’t invasive and won’t spread itself unchecked across your property the minute you aren’t paying attention.

With Miscanthus Giganteus on your side, there’s no excuse to suffer a drab winter landscape. With its lush greens during warm months and sturdy yet delicate-looking flowers through fall and winter, you’ll always have something beautiful to see.

Want to know more about ornamental grasses or this one in particular? Contact us for a consultation and let’s talk about how to design four seasons of enjoyment into your outdoor space.