Japanese Forest Grasses come in many shades, but by far the most popular one is the more colorful “Aureola”, with its green & gold variegated leaves. Their bright, chartreuse color brings a pop of color to shade gardens.
In Spring their new leaves are the brightest, bringing a sunshine yellow to garden beds. Throughout the summer their leaves gently cascade with the wind adding motion to shady spots. In fall their leaves turn a pinkish red shade, celebrating the season. Throughout winter their leaves provide cover for local songbirds who are seeking shelter from predators.
Perhaps its most fascinating attribute is the cascading habit in which most of the leaves arc in the same direction, appearing much like a golden waterfall.
Hakonechloa macra Aureola
Common Name: Variegated Japanese Forest Grass
Type: Ornamental grass
Zones: 5 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Sun: Part to Full shade
Leaf: Showy, Colorful, Yellow, Chartreuse
Tolerates: Deer, Rabbit, Air Pollution
The cascading nature of Japanese Forest Grass inspired an artist to use it as a lion’s mane in their topiary collection. See photos.
￼￼￼Japanese Forest Grass is a slow grower, minimizing the need to tend to it often. In early Spring, before the new growth emerges, cut it back to 1/3 of its size.
Every 4 or 5 years, during the Spring maintenance, dig up the entire plants, roots and all, and divide them in half. This will encourage the plant to send out new roots and ensure there is sufficient room for the roots to thrive.
Insufficient water will cause the leaves to turn light brown and stiffen up. During periods of extreme dryness, water them deeply and slowly to provide the roots with the necessary moisture.
Plant Japanese Forest Grass where it can cascade down slopes, drape over rocks or crawl over the edges of walls. Its full, cascading form softens the hard lines often formed by hardscape, such as stones that create walkways.
Houses often cast shadows, casting shade in the areas we visit most. Tuck Japanese Forest Grass into a container and enjoy the burst of color its leaves provide.