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ornamental grass in shade?

(Zone 4b)

I have no experience with ornamental grasses but I have been doing lots of investigating during the 'off season' looking for grasses which 'like' shade.

All of these look wonderful and have been described as (quite?) shade tolerant:

Hakonechloa macra 'Fubuki'
Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’
Carex 'Ice Dance'
Chasmanthium ‘River Mist’

But now I need your experience. Have you had success with any of these grasses in a 'shady' location?

This message was edited Feb 11, 2012 6:57 PM

Hobart, IN

'Ice Dance' is a real toughie in the shade. It will spread by underground runners but is pretty tolerant of dry shade once established. Just give it some space.
I have Hak 'Aureola' which I is my favorite so far. Easy to divide (once established) for more plants as well which is a plus in my book. I've even had some growing in a pot for the past 3 years. I also have 'All Gold' which has a different form than 'Aureola'. In my garden, it's taking a little bit longer to get established but I do really like it as well. The "haks" do very well in brightening up the shade.
Have had just the species Chasmanthium and it self-sows like crazy. I have apologized on occasion with sharing this plant with other gardeners. It has a tough root system and even the tiny self-sown plants are a pain to pull out. But I do like the dangly seed heads so I do keep some plants around.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I have the 4 of species chasmanthium too. Interestingly, it didn't start seeding for about 5 years, and then the baby plants started popping up. To be honest, they picked such good locations that I left many of them, and have just transplanted clumps to my new yard.

One man's trash...

Some examples of the uninvited...

Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack Thumbnail by DonnaMack
Hobart, IN

I like your term - "the uninvited".

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Here are a few of my shade-tolerant grasses.
The first is hakonechloa All Gold. For me, it's more vigorous than Aureola.
Fills in quickly and looks lush. Does better with at least part-day sun.
Second is carex siderosticha Island Brocade.
A broad-leaf grass just a few inches high but with a bold appearance.
Finally is acorus gramineus minimus aureus. It really brightens up the shade.
It fills in tightly and is just couple inches high.
All of them appreciate adequate moisture.

Thumbnail by Weerobin Thumbnail by Weerobin Thumbnail by Weerobin
Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I also found this photo of Carex sid. Island Brocade in a planter.
It looks great on my shady porch.

Thumbnail by Weerobin
Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

They are all beautiful. Hakonechloa All Gold just made my must have list.

Austin, TX

I too have put the Hak....All Gold on my list. Great picture.

Hobart, IN

Weerobin - does your Carex s. get thuggish at all? I have 'Variegata' which is both somewhat thuggish and looks very sad by the end of the growing season. In fact, I moved it to a less conspicuous spot in the backyard.

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

Cindy, mine hasn't been aggressive at all.
In fact, I wish it would fill in a little faster.
I had another one with white variegation which spread.
This on has gold variegation; maybe the gold/green combo is more well-behaved.
Don't know for sure.

Hobart, IN

Hmmm - I'll have to keep my eyes open for the gold variegated variety and give that one a try.

Lake Stevens, WA(Zone 8a)

Hi Rouge-
I am in zone 8 Pacific NW. I have in shade: Hak 'Aureola"-completely trouble free and my sister in the foothills zone 7 has it too. she also had the 'All Gold', and it was so similar they looked about the same. Slowly spreads, looks great all the time.
I have Carex 'Ice dance' in dry shade. Unlike Cindy in zone 5, it does not seem very invasive for me, in fact it barely grows, but maybe that is because it pretty dry in the summer. Looks nice and fresh next to my Choisya 'Sundance' which is also lovely and trouble free in dry shade here!
Rouge where is Vinegar Hill? What zone are you in? Your conditions may be more like IN or IL than WA. (or maybe Alaska?)

(Zone 4b)

Quote from mlmlakestevens :
I have Carex 'Ice dance' in dry shade. Unlike Cindy in zone 5, it does not seem very invasive for me, in fact it barely grows, but maybe that is because it pretty dry in the summer. Looks nice and fresh next to my Choisya 'Sundance' which is also lovely and trouble free in dry shade here![/quote]

I am looking for a grass stunner which can thrive or maybe just hold its own in dry shade.

[quote="mlmlakestevens"]Rouge..what zone are you in? Your conditions may be more like IN or IL than WA. (or maybe Alaska?)


I am in 5b just north of Toronto Ontario.

Hobart, IN

Same zone as me. While 'Ice Dance' is nice, the stunners have to be the "Hak" grasses.

Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

I have several varieties of hakone grass in my shade garden and they all do well...some more vigorous than others, but none struggle. I have one Carex- Bowles golden, I think it's called. At least I think it's a Carex. In any case, it was bought the first year of my garden, in 2006, and has barely grown at all. I like it well enough, but it has not thrived in the shade as the Hakone grasses.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Please forgive my stupidity, but when you talk about "Hakone" grasses, are you talking about Hakonechloa? Probably a no-brainer, but sometimes **I** am a no-brainer! =) I'm familiar with Hakonechloa, we sell a couple varieties at work, but I've only known of them as "Hakonechloa" cause it's such a fun word to say! < =D

Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

Yep, same thing. I just have an easier time spelling it Hakone! I just added the Fubuki one last year....curious to see how that one looks this year. From the online pics, it seems spikier and less arching than Aureola. I love the arching form, so I hope that changes with age.

Hobart, IN

For me, 'Bowles Golden' likes a little more sun. It didn't do well in all shade but then it wasn't high shade. It's been doing better since I moved it. Am tempted to try some of its seeds that I collected but I know they won't necessarily come true in terms of color. And they're supposed to be sown fresh.
Noreaster - I've been tempted by 'Fubuki' with the descriptions of fall color but am curious to hear how well the green and white striping bears up over the summer.

Maine, United States(Zone 5b)

Yeah, I think my Bowles Golden would like more sun and probably more water than I can give it.

I have to say I didn't notice any particular interesting color with Fubuki in the Fall, but I had kind of lost interest in the garden by that point by having a new puppy in the house. When I bought the Fubuki, the nursery had it sitting in a bit more sun than my garden has, so there were some singed leaves here and there. But I planted it in a pretty shady spot so didn't notice it getting any rattier after that.

Cedar Rapids, IA(Zone 5a)

Hi -- just checking in as I have had various success with the Hakone grasses, but to get started, I highly recommend the standard Japanese Forest Grass - Hakonechloa macra Aureola. I'm in 5a, and while this grass takes a few years to establish -- once done, it is a trooper. These were planted 3 years ago, so you can see the variance of growth based on the level of sunlight. The first pic is in partial shade (August), the next in full shade (August), and the last in full sun (late June). It varies shades of lime green to almost gold in the sun. I have found it more robust than the other hybrids, which take longer to establish. I do not supplement water, so plants need to be strong to survive. Hope this helps -- Dax

This message was edited Mar 12, 2012 9:11 AM

Thumbnail by dax080 Thumbnail by dax080 Thumbnail by dax080
Hobart, IN

I like how you use the grass as a "skirt" for the surprise lilies. Great idea. I do consider the 'Aureola' to be a trooper as well. Over time it does wander a bit at the edges but I just dig up those bits to start a new clump elsewhere.

(Arlene) Southold, NY(Zone 7a)

Love your photos, as always, Dax. You have such gorgeous gardens and such talent.

Cindy - I do the same thing with mine and now have five nice clumps growing. They grow so fast!

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Hobart, IN

I have two clumps that have intermingled with some Campanula poscharskyana and it's going to be quite the chore to separate the two. Guessing I'll just hack out the intermingled parts with my garden knife and then untangle out of the ground. That'll give me more Hak grass (I can never have enough!) and know a spot already that needs some brightening up.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

I just cleaned up a bunch of Hak at work yesterday to get them ready for Spring... now you guys are really making me wish I'd brought them all home with me! =)

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