Hakonechloa, Hakone Grass, Japanese Forest Grass 'Aureola'

Hakonechloa macra

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


Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo


Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:




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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone

Can be grown as an annual



Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Juneau, Alaska

Bee Branch, Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas


Huntington Beach, California

Livermore, 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

South Amana, Iowa

Louisville, Kentucky

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Foxboro, Massachusetts

Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

Marlborough, Massachusetts

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Spencer, Massachusetts

Wenham, 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

Pittsford, 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

Millersburg, Oregon

Portland, Oregon(2 reports)

Salem, Oregon

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Blue Bell, Pennsylvania

Glenshaw, Pennsylvania

Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Quakertown, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Hendersonville, Tennessee

Canadian, Texas

Chandler, Texas

Lubbock, Texas

South Jordan, Utah

New Haven, Vermont

Herndon, Virginia

Lexington, Virginia

Anacortes, Washington

Bainbridge Island, Washington

Bryn Mawr-Skyway, Washington

East Port Orchard, Washington

Everett, Washington

Ferndale, Washington

Midland, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Parkwood, Washington

Port Orchard, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

Sequim, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Beloit, Wisconsin

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Ellsworth, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 8, 2021, vossner from East Texas,
United States (Zone 8a) wrote:

Rating neutral as new in my garden. Have always listed after it.


On May 23, 2021, SecretMonkey from Salisbury, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Several years ago I planted a few of these in a shade bed and most died. That bed was never watered, just got rain. A year later I moved the two survivors to a big pot with some ginger under a drip line. Two years later the plants have survived but haven't grown at all. The three blades on each plant look healthy though. I'm wondering if it requires a certain kind of fertilizer. This plant is basically a, well...grass, so it should be pretty sturdy and resilient but has so far not proven to be so. I'm not giving up on it, in fact just moved the same two survivors to a new place in moist but well drained rich soil with more sun. So far this grass has been a little high maintenance for me. It's pretty, though, and the two to three blades on each plant really stand out against the soil/m... read more


On Jul 29, 2019, LiquidFeet from Wenham, MA wrote:

I love hakonechloa grass. I grow two kinds, macra aureola (the one with the white stripes) and macra "All Gold." The All Gold grows faster and its leaves stand more upright. The aureola is graceful with a water-fountain look.

I'm in Massachusetts. They are easy to grow here, in deep shade or out in the sun. Split them in early spring when they are putting out new growth.

They go dormant in winter under the snow. The leaves continue to stand up a bit even when dead in the spring when the snow melts. I cut them off then just pull on them with my hands; they come free. Birds like to use those dry leaves to line their nests.

The only issue I've had with mine is grubs eating the roots. Grub-X helped.


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.


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 ... read more


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.


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).


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 ... read more


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.


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

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


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.


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.


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)


On Jan 11, 2010, LeafPeeper from Bonners Ferry, ID (Zone 6b) 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.


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

Sounds great, but is it deer and rabbit resistant?


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.