Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Hakone Grass, Japanese Forest Grass
Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Hakonechloa (hah-koh-nee-KLO-uh) (Info)
Species: macra (MAK-ruh) (Info)
Cultivar: Aureola

17 vendors have this plant for sale.

50 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball

Seed Collecting:
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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17 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral stump68 On Dec 15, 2014, stump68 from Bronxville, NY wrote:

We've grown Hakonechloa Aureola for many years with great success. But a consistent problem has been older plants reverting to solid green color. Every few years, we've taken to purchasing a new specimen and mixing old and new plants. We love them, but wish they would stay true to color.

Positive JDLarsen On Sep 14, 2014, JDLarsen from Minneapolis, MN wrote:

Zone 4B/5A. I planted 3 Aureola's last fall and all survived a cold MN winter. I'd read they grow slowly so I was pleasantly surprised at how much they grew in one season (19" X 16" wide & 7.5" high) It was a very wet spring and summer which may have helped.

They're planted in clay soil and get morning and late afternoon sun but have good light all day. I enriched the soil when planted and gave them one dose of compost tea early summer. They have a habit of leaning more in one direction and mine are leaning/thicker towards the hotter afternoon sun. Not the direction I'd prefer - but so be it! They're still beautiful.

I saw some growing at a nursery in full shade. They were small and a bit shabby compared to mine and not as golden so I'd say in colder zones they prefer some sun.

Summer evenings they glow at dusk into evening. Gorgeous!

Positive Creeker On Jul 20, 2014, Creeker from Stoney Creek
Canada wrote:

I find that this grass grows faster and bigger in full sun. I live in Canada (approximately US Zone 5) so are summers aren't overly hot. I have plants growing in part shade which are slower growing and smaller. Beautiful plant when mature. Easily my favorite grass.

Positive ontheisland On Jun 17, 2014, ontheisland from Parksville
Canada wrote:

I live on Vancouver Island up in Canada, where we have a mild temperate climate. This particular grass is gorgeous in the shade. Like others have said, it was quite slow to get started but once established it is stunning. The other thing that makes it so appealing is that shaded areas are often dark so this brightens up a shady corner or path beautifully.

I love when there is a breeze because it looks like waves on the ocean.

We too leave ours to dry overwinter though, especially in the early years while it was getting established it looked quite messy. Now we simply leave it and cut it right back in the spring.

Ours has not ever been prey to slugs -- for some reason they seem not to enjoy it (thankfully).

Positive coriaceous On Jan 17, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A wonderful mounding grass, very useful for part to full shade.

'Aureola' stays much lower than the all-green species, generally not getting over a foot tall. The species gets to 2-3 feet as described and is much more vigorous than the variegated cultivars. Of the variegated cultivars, 'Aureola' is the most vigorous. All are slow-spreading and easy to control.

'Aureola' will occasionally produce reversions to the all-green species, which will need to be dug out promptly if you don't want the reversions to take over the planting.

It's beautiful when dormant, I wait till early spring before cutting it down. It does go through an awkward transitional phase in the fall while it's entering dormancy, during which it looks ragged---the leaves shrivel a bit temporarily while drying out---but if you can tolerate that for a few weeks it develops a great presence for the rest of the winter.

If you want to move or divide this plant, your chances of success are best in early spring when growth is beginning.

Positive wakingdream On Jul 4, 2012, wakingdream from Allentown, PA wrote:

I have two clumps of Hakonechloa grass in my zone 6 PA garden.

It has taken many years for it to look full and vigorous. It has never died off, but has certainly "stalled".

My favorite time of year for this grass is fall when the nearby Ajuga foliage goes vivid purple in contrast to the bright stripes of Hakonechloa.

Positive Gabrielle On Feb 28, 2012, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

Forms a beautiful clump. Blooms June-July in my garden.

Positive alazon183 On Jan 13, 2010, alazon183 from New Haven, VT wrote:

Japanese forest grass grows well in Vermont (officially, our garden is either USDA zone 4b or 4a, but we do not remember the last time the low temperature was low enough to qualify). Four plants here in different locations have come through at least half a dozen winters.

Positive 7826 On Jan 12, 2010, 7826 from Ormond Beach, FL wrote:

After admiring and unable to find this plant for many years, I found it while visiting my daughter in Tacoma Washington. It is not available anywhere here in Central Florida. Within the last 2 weeks, we have experienced record cold temperatures, ranging from as low as 27 degrees. Thus far, it has survived.
I planted clumps of it in October. It has not had the opportunity to withstand our Florida heat, so I am anxious to see how well it will hold up. So far, it has not gone dormant.
I absolutely love it....a bit pricey bit it is well worth the cost.

Positive cheerpeople On Jan 12, 2010, cheerpeople from northwest, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

wish they'd update the zone info on this plant. It is clearly hardy to zone 5a for many of us. karen ( 5a)

Positive LeafPeeper On Jan 11, 2010, LeafPeeper from Ferndale, WA wrote:

This is one of my favorite plants in my shade garden. It also does well in the sun because my former shade area turned sunny when we removed a cherry tree. Happily, my Hakonechloa is still thriving. The leaves are wonderful in floral arrangements. They add a wispy touch, make good filler, and are long-lasting, too. Here in Washington state, many perennials go dormant and we don't mind the dry grassy mound in the garden. It's all easily cut back in early spring before new growth appears.

Neutral al448789 On Jan 11, 2010, al448789 from Charlotte, NC wrote:

Sounds great, but is it deer and rabbit resistant?

Neutral surfcity On Jan 11, 2010, surfcity from Huntington Beach, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

Hakonechloa is a wonderful plant, but in a frost-free, snow-free area like Southern California, I believe it's wise to place it so that it's out of view when it's in its less-than-pretty dormant stage. Putting it in a pot so it can be moved into view when it sprouts new growth, or replanting it each year like an annual, if you can afford it, seems to work.

Positive kaydiehl On Jan 11, 2010, kaydiehl from Pasadena, CA wrote:

Here in Zone 9 it must be in part shade. Beautiful all summer long, but goes so dormant in winter I thought it was dead. Slow growing, but Home Depot here in CA sells gallon clumps at a reasonable price.

Positive cscollins318 On May 20, 2009, cscollins318 from Hendersonville, TN (Zone 6b) wrote:

This plant was dug up, stomped on and then replanted by an electrician burying some wiring. I thought it was a goner. I was shocked to see it sprout this spring and it looks even better than it did last year!

Positive opera_fiore On Aug 11, 2007, opera_fiore from Fayetteville, AR wrote:

Beautiful against rock walls. My quart sized plants have doubled in one season and look great, but can anyone tell me why it is so expensive?!? Nonetheless, I will buy more next year for my deep shade problem areas.

Positive mellymass On Jul 10, 2007, mellymass from Metrowest, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have had this plant for about a year now. Picked it up after seeing a bigger one at a local nursery. I agree that it is a slow grower which I didnt know at the time of buying it. My last visit to the garden center they told me it takes about 3 years for them to get to a nice size.

Neutral smiln32 On Dec 1, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Plant in fertile, compost rich soil, well drained soil in full sun. Grows well in containers. It is a relatively slow grower. It does not have any major pest or disease problems.

Positive tcfromky On Sep 29, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

This plant is wonderful with bright yellow leaves and green stripes. It arches downward and brightens the shade garden immensely. In autumn, it's leaves take on a pinkish cast, too.

Positive nynighthawk On Oct 4, 2003, nynighthawk from Brooklyn, NY wrote:

I first fell in love with this plant after seeing it growing in a community garden in NYC under high shade. It looked like a glowing waterfall, moving with the slightest breeze. Although I have had a little difficulty getting it established in my own garden, it is because of the extremes of hot sun at noon and deep shade from surrounding buildings - the classic issues of a city garden site. I'm sure it will do better when moved to more even, light shade. Well worth the effort - it's a beauty when well grown. No significant problems with slugs or any other pests or diseases that I can tell.

Positive wnstarr On Sep 26, 2003, wnstarr from Puyallup, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Great groundcover in shady area. Grows in clumps that dance in the lightest breeze. Plant dies down in the winter and comes back in the Spring. Will spread, but can be divided for more plants. Ads a ray of sunshine in the dark corners of the shade garden. Plants seem resistant to damage from insects and slugs. Makes a great ground cover under the Banana's growning in Washington state. Ads to the semi-tropical look.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Juneau, Alaska
Bee Branch, Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Garden Valley, California
Huntington Beach, California
Los Angeles, California
Martinez, California
Pasadena, California
Riverside, California
Sacramento, California
San Jose, California
San Leandro, California
Sebastopol, California
Brookfield, Connecticut
Southington, Connecticut
Ormond Beach, Florida
Augusta, Georgia
Chadwick, Illinois
Cherry Valley, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois (2 reports)
Crystal Lake, Illinois (2 reports)
Elgin, Illinois
Homer Glen, Illinois
Mount Prospect, Illinois
Park Ridge, Illinois
Plainfield, Illinois
Washington, Illinois
South Amana, Iowa
Louisville, Kentucky
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Foxboro, Massachusetts
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Marlborough, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Spencer, Massachusetts
Winchester, Massachusetts
Columbiaville, Michigan
Royal Oak, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Carson City, Nevada
Salem, New Hampshire
Morristown, New Jersey
Bronxville, New York
Brooklyn, New York
Clinton, New York
Coram, New York
Huntington Station, New York
Southold, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Weaverville, North Carolina
Chesterland, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Dayton, Ohio
Monroe, Ohio
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Albany, Oregon
Portland, Oregon (2 reports)
Salem, Oregon
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
Quakertown, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Hendersonville, Tennessee
Canadian, Texas
Lubbock, Texas
New Haven, Vermont
Herndon, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Anacortes, Washington
Bainbridge Island, Washington
Bryn Mawr-skyway, Washington
East Port Orchard, Washington
Everett, Washington
Ferndale, Washington
Olympia, Washington
Puyallup, Washington
Vancouver, Washington
Beloit, Wisconsin
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Ellsworth, Wisconsin

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