Question about Maiden Grass descriptors

Austin, TX(Zone 8b)

I just bought 9 tubs of Maiden Grass; Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'.
On the front of the tag it says "growing 4-6 feet tall." I assume this is including the plumes.
On the BACK of the same tag it says "average size 10 feet tall"!!! I can't use a 10 foot tall plant where I planned these!!
Does anyone have experience with these? They are in 5 gallon tubs and are already about 3 feet tall and seem to grow very upright compared to my other miscanthus sinensis in my berm in the front (didn't save the tags to know what type exactly).

Please reply soon if you can help. I need to RETURN THESE to Lowe's if I don't hear that they won't get 10 feet tall!!!

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)


I'm sorry that I am just seeing this, but I have a lot of experience with your plant. I grew them for several years at my former home.

No, they do not grow ten feet tall, even with plumes!

They grow four to six feet tall without plumes.

Here are some pictures, with and without plumes, of mature miscanthus sinensis gracillimus plants. I had 8 of them.

They are wonderful! Please don't be afraid to plant them.

They grow about 30 inches wide so plant them accordingly. They are less wide than MANY grasses - and are possible the best.

Pic 1, October (full bloom, maximum height - 8 year old grasses)
Pic 2 , July (prebloom)
Pic 3, October, mid bloom
Pic 4, August pre-bloom

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Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Donna, I never tire of looking at your beautiful, nicely landscaped grasses.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

You are the SWEETEST person. Thank you so much for your kind comments. It gives me great joy that someone else shares my fondness for them (OK, I'm crazy about them!).

I hope she got my message. Five gallon tubs. Can you imagine?

So far in my new garden I have three Morning Light (indespensible), 3 Graziella (with three more coming), 3 Huron Sunrise, 2 pennisetum Hamelyn, 1 Giganteous, 1 Strictus, 1 eragrostis (with three more coming) and the four panicum I told you about. If only I could find a Bluttenwunder! I also have chasmantium latifolium. I brought two from my home and I really do have to restrain them!

I am alternating the installation of roses, peonies, small viburnums and grasses. I find that the four have similar qualities in terms of beauty and size/space. It's really fun. The roses and peonies start the year while the grasses are coming up. But then the grasses appear and endure and endure.

I put three miscanthus in a client's garden (she needed wind resistant plants) and she had never seen them before, but fell in love and wants to replace three annual grasses (pennisetum setaceum) with three more miscanthus.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

"alternating"?? I can't get the picture. Are you putting the roses and peonies in front of the grasses? And, then, how are you planting the Viburnums. Sounds wonderful--just can't quite get the picture as to placement.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Ah, I am inarticulate!

I alternate installation. I will receive a bunch of roses at once. Since I am warned, I actually dig the holes in adnavce. Last year Pickering Nursery gave instructions to dig the holes before I opened the bags. I laughed, but I did it, and you know, I found that it resulted in the PERFECT planting of all four roses. (Shipping for three or four roses is about $18, which for many companies is the cost of one. And then the roses were, last year $16.50 each. So ordering four is really economical if you don't botch the planting by letting them dry out - which I've done, sometimes losing one.)

Last fall I was on a mission with peonies, and planted new ones and moved old ones all at once. It took three days, but I did nothing else - happily, at that point the roses don't need work.

The grasses tend to come in spring a few weeks before the roses, so I can focus on those. And the first group of 5 viburnums came at once, last April. Containerized, thank goodness, so a few days delay is fine.

Don't mind me. I'm just dizzy with delight. Or is it exhaustion? My community will pick up your lawn bags at no cost on your garbage pickup day in April. Otherwise you have to buy stickers at $2.50 each. I had filled 8 bags when my studly Fire Department Battalion Commander neighbor joked that 4 more would make a dozen. Thus urged on by beauty, I filled four more. And dragged them to the curb. I'm still punchy.

The group I left out are lilies. I was just informed that they are being packed for shipment.

I just love this time of year. Things pop out of the ground, so you can plan EXACTLY where to put stuff. I'm having a blast.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

So, alternating means your method of planting the plants.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Yes, Ma'am. I find that I can get quite overwhelmed with planting, especially if I am putting in lots of stuff. I really liked getting my viburnums containerized. One of them was a five gallon. I could leave them for weeks if I wanted to do so. I request shipping dates that will let me get organized. I keep my Hazzards orders away from the others, because all of their plants are shipped bareroot. Antique Rose Emporium is sending them containerized, so I have time there. So does Romence. Bluestone plants I really like to get out of the coir yesterday, so when their plants come I drop everything else.

And, actually lily bulbs can be put in pots for a few days.Unless they are sent sprouted (which has happened to me more than once!)

But the last thing I want is for the Bluestone (coir), Pickering and Hallson (bareroot) and lilies (from anybody) to come within a day or two of each other!

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

That's a good idea.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I have been researching Ornamental Grasses for a few days.
I have narrowed the choices to these:

Eragrostis spectabilis: cute, tidy, rosy purple blooms, NATIVE!

Muhlenbergia reverchonii 'Undaunted Ruby Muhly': lovely rosy blooms with tidy appearance. NATIVE!

Panicum virgatum 'Rotstralbusch' the reddest leaves

I'm looking at several Miscanthus but haven't quite decided which ones. I am considering these:
Miscanthus sinensis
Huron Sunrise: like the big blooms, does it stand up?
Adagio: It appears smaller-perhaps putting it in front of one of the taller ones? Also, like the way it weeps.
Silberfeder: I like this one, because, per Donna, it's a weeper.
Gracilimus: Like this one per Donna-it doesn't spread a lot
Morning Light: Like this one-seems to actually have lights on it. How tall does it get in comparison to say, Gracilimus or Huron Sunrise. I don't like the idea the leaves will cut.

The Miscanthus really grab your attention. I have been worried about it being invasive in Mo., but I talked with my county agent and was told that there has been no talk of invasive here. My research reported invasive in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal area.

I looked today in Lowe's. They had nothing.
The local garden center had Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'. It was in about a 3 gallong pot asking $35.00.

These grasses will be on a steep slope. I'm wondering if "bigger would be better" to get them established before they wash down the slope!

I'm using some of them to block the neighbors yard. There's nothing to look at over there!

I need to figure out how to organize these in a planting scheme and which ones to get.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Yes! Eragrostis spectabilis!

LOVE your Muhlenbergia. I had hesitated because of zone concerns but I goggled your name and it is hardy to zone 5! I see that plant in my future.

Huron Sunrise I highly recommend. My only error with this grass is that I only put in one, to replace a silberfeil my designer put in. There is a reason silberfeil is no longer widely available. It READILY dies out in the middle. So I put in a Huron Sunrise (no good pics!) and was blown away. It doesn't flop, and the stories about it being one of the most floriferous are true. Gorgeous burgundy plumes, and lots of them. I have three in my front yard. It's not the tallest grass, but it definitely Spectacular in a very classy way.

Yes, I agree with your use of adagio. It is only about two a half feet tall, it weeps, and it is extremely elegant and refined. I put it on the other side of gracillimus, and near fountain grass, that has a similar shape. I acquired two but put them in my walnut bed, which killed them. I must find a new spot - it's a wonderful grass.

The first photo, taken with rose Marchesa Boccella, will give you a really good comparison in size between Adagio and gracillimus. It was taken in October. Note the tall grass in bloom, which is gracillimus. The shorter grass to the right, which has already bloomed, is Adagio. In the second picture, in September, is Adagio in bloom and a bit of gracillimus to the right. It is taken from the reverse side.

Morning Light gets to about the same height as gracillimus, so it's a good block. It is at least a foot taller than Huron Sunrise. When I say the blades cut, I should say that it mattered because I had lilies, and it sliced them. And when I went in between the MLs to handle the lilies, it sliced me. But unless you are going to be romping between your grasses, it isn't a problem, and I did install it again.

If you can't get the grasses you want from garden centers, Romence is a good place to order grasses, if you are going to order them. They are bigger than most and establish faster. Also, they are doing $9.95 flat shipping this spring. I got three Huron Sunrise and Morning Light from them and I was very pleased. I should also add that I was very happy with Miscanthus Graziella and Pennisetum Hamlyn from Bluestone. They were half price and established quickly. I was frankly surprised to receive such good grasses from Bluestone.

The only grass I have found to be somewhat invasive is chasmanthium latifolium - Northern Sea Oats. But I love it because it grows in sun or shade, moisture or dryness, and it overwinters spectacularly. The talk about invasiveness is nonsense. After about ten years silberfeder started seeding a bit. But it's easy to see, and easy to pull out. The stuff about invasiveness came from the native nazis I lived around. I find myself annoyed by people who have agendas that make them distort facts, both about plants they like and plants they don't. But my conservation, native oriented community approved my garden plan. I must have had 40 miscanthus, and it never raised an issue anywhere except some silberfeder seeding in my yard.

I just love your choices. You seem to have done fabulous research. I'm really glad that I took a lot of pictures, because I can enjoy the memory and it helps people who are trying to make choices.

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Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Well, good to know about Silberfeder. That helps me make my choices. I did like how it weeped since it is going down a slope. Some weepers will look nice on the slopes.

Yes, Donna, I do appreciate all of your pictures. They really tell the story. All of your good information and experiences have been extremely helpful to me.

I'll probably have to order from Romence per your advice. I don't think anyone will have them around here. I may check STL first. I like to avoid shipping costs.

Here's your Miscanthus sinensis 'Blutenwuder'. I think they will sell them to you. I may order one of these also.

Also, if you go to Bluestem Nursery, click on Ornamental Grasses, then click on, say, Miscanthus that's in a column on the left. Then look at the top of the page, there's an orange bar that says "Ornamental Grasses, Miscanthus", right underneath the orange bar there's a chart for Grasses to click on. I found it helpful.

They have lots of information about each grass on their website and even suggest companions.

I like the way some of the grasses stand tall and yet, have many blades of grass that cascade down. It covers their feet nicely and you don't have to put any plant in front of them should you chose not to. It's a choice that way. It appears Blutenwunder does this. Are there others that do this that you know of? I will continue to research for this feature.

This message was edited Apr 8, 2015 7:44 PM

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

Yes, Bluttenwunder definitely does this! It's on the left in the picture, with silberfeder to the right. I had never really thought about this! That's brilliant! As a person who likes to cram a bunch of plants into the garden it wasn't an issue for me, but I get it! See below.

I remember now that I found Bluestem. The only catch is that I need a $40 order, and they only have a small Blut, and it's $7.50, so I would have to make up the difference (and find a place to put it!). But going back I can see that they also have larger clumps of stipa brachyhyricha, which I have a nice semi sunny location for, and they also have larger clumps of prairie dropseed, which I wanted to reacquire.

I went back to all of my pictures and then I went to Rick Darke's "Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes" and started looking at pictures and descriptions. See if you like 'Goldfeder' , which is described as a sport of Silberfeder. The picture shows it cascading much like Silberfeder. You are looking for grasses that are described as "lax stemmed". That's the expression he uses to describe Silberfeder's habit.

From the pictures, also have a look at 'Cosmopolitan'. More than 8 feet tall, it is a Miscanthus sinensis var. condensarus. It reaches a height of ten feet. The U.S. National Arboretum imported it from Japan. It is variegated, like Strictus and Zebrinis.

By the way, during my research on this (I do love doing research) I stumbled across an unbelievably complete article on just about every aspect or ornamental grasses that you can possibly imagine.

Here is the link:

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Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

By the way, have you seen Kurt Bluemel's site? Mindblowing.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I will read the article. Thanks for sending it to me. It will be helpful.
No, I had not come across Bob's website. I will certainly browse.

My next step is to figure how I'm going to design this project. That's where I always get bogged down. I stew and stew over it hoping it will be correct.

After I get a design plan in mind, I will start shopping around for the amount of grasses I will need. Right now, I'm leaning towards Lazy S. They sell in quarts. I have not been to their site as of yet. I will have to check their prices vs. smaller plants perhaps, somewhere else.

I would be better off if I could find a vendor locally-even 100 miles away. If you buy enough, it would be worth it. Shipping and handling gets pretty expensive. Maybe, I could have my local garden center order some for me. That might be cheaper and better. Local vendors sell bigger plants because they ship in quantities.

I'm thinking I need to buy a quart size to get the grasses growing and to take a good "hold" since it's going to be on a slope. I don't want them sliding down the hill before they take root.

This will be my one project this year. Sometimes, I try to do "everything" and feel exasperated and exhausted trying to keep everything "new" going.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I had promised myself that I would not get calamagrostis acutifolia 'Karl Forster', although I had two in my last home before they were everywhere and they were wonderful - one of the first grasses to bloom. 3 by 5 pot.

But then, blast it, Santa Rose sent a buy one get free up ten. I went outside and found a perfect spot.

Birder, there are garden centers that will order for you. Why not call and see?

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Yes, I'm going to call around. I have three prominent garden centers in my town. I talked with the owner of one today. She said she would order "bare root". I'm dubious, but maybe it would be okay. She had Miscanthus Autumn Anthem--a quart or perhaps a little bigger for $12.00..

I did a little research on it. Although I probably need to delve into this one further, but first impression: I think there's others that are prettier. She also had Andropogon g. (Big Blue Stem) and Schiazachyrium scoparium (Little Blue Stem) boy, that's a mouthful!! I have no idea how to pronounce that one, also Calamagrostis acutifolia 'Karl Foerster'. It looked nice.

Master Gardener's is having a plant sale in two weeks. I've been digging up and potting up plants to take to sell.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

The trick with bare root perennials (and I know, because I botched a couple of alchemilla mollis from Hallson) is to get them into the ground really fast. I figured it out with the geranium striatum. Bare root perennials can look really weird, and the alchemilla was unrecognizable to me, so like a dummy I planted one of them upside down.

I agree with you about 'Autumn Anthem'. I don't think it's that pretty. I think it's an attempt by somebody to make money by patenting a plant. Honestly, I think some "introductions" are pure nonsense.

Calamagrostis acutifolia 'Karl Foerster' is an absolutely wonderful grass. It is one of the first to bloom. And it doesn't flop - it stays wonderfully upright. And the flowers are gorgeous.

In the first pic, it is in bloom on the left. The plant on the right is chasmanthium latifolium, the native prairie dropseed, which you can grow in sun or shade, but I am finding that it seeds a lot in shade (behind them is silberfeder).

In the second and third pics, taken a year apart, is one of my favorite uses for it. It is a soft grass and I would use it to hide the ugly stems of the otherwise beautiful orienpet lily 'Silk Road'. In 'Morning Light' they would be sliced.

And in the fall, look how upright! This low maintenance and early bloom combined with beauty is WHY it has ended up on municipal sites. That's also why it was a Perennial Plant of the year ages ago. But I could no longer resist, and I highly recommend it.

They had tons of both bluestem, little and big, in my former community. It's heavily promoted by native growers, and there was tons of it, but I felt it was just OK, particularly in masses, but it never captured my imagination, and I never bought one.

And you are right about going to garden centers. I must have bought 30 grasses at Milaegers over the years. I would wait until fall when they needed to get rid of them. It's a myth that you can't plant grasses in the fall - you just have to water them properly. I lived 45 miles from them so it was a 90 mile round trip that I must have made 200 times. It was very worthwhile and the grasses are bigger. I order mine now from Romence because they are larger than most and the flat $9.95 shipping for all the plants you order in a season makes it cheaper than driving.

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