Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' - Maiden Grass

'Gracillimus' is perhaps the oldest cultivar of Miscanthus sinensis and remains very popular to this day. A late season bloomer here at Bluestem, we see only the beginning stages of flowers. Nevertheless, the hardiness, the fine foliage and the spectacular fall colours make 'Gracillimus' a favourite.

Description: warm season*; clump forming
Foliage is green; 7-10 mm (1/4-3/16") wide; 120-180 cm (48-72") in height
Flowers September until frost; 150-200 cm (60-80") tall

Ideal conditions: full sun or bright shade; fertile soil; needs ample water in hot, dry conditions;

Zone: 5 - 9, possibly colder (find your zone; further info on plant hardiness)

Suggested Uses: specimen, border, screen, hedge, background plant, massing, by the water, arrangements

When divide: when it shows signs of life in the spring, continuing until the new growth is about 18" tall; only in the spring (further info on dividing grasses)

When to plant or transplant: plant bare root plants only in late spring to early summer, when the soil is warm, about the same time you plant your bean or corn seeds. The roots will grow only in warm soil. Planting too early in the spring may cause the roots to rot. Similar story in the fall when the roots may not grow enough to establish before the cold and wet of winter, resulting in the demise of the plant.

When to cut back: we enjoy the foliage of Miscanthus so much that we like to leave it standing until the new growth starts to appear, possibly as late as May. We also like the combination of the tan foliage and spring bulbs. Cut back to about 6" from the crown of the plant.

Partner with: Aster, Rudbeckia, Sedum, Yucca, Heliopsis 'Summer Sun'

Season of interest: July till spring; will likely remain standing all winter

Drought tolerance rating: 3 (water to root depth once a week); further info

The species is native to: marshes, slopes, mountainsides of Eastern Asia and west to Africa. It is a source for thatching material for temple roofs and homes.

Recommended spacing between plants: 60-100cm (24-40") why such a difference?

Pronunciation: Miscanthus (mis-KAN-thus) sinensis (sin-EN-sis) Gracillimus (gra-SILL-ih-mus)


*a warm season grass likes to grow in warm weather. Before it will show signs of life in the spring, the soil must warm up, and be warm for possibly as long as two weeks.

More ornamental grasses

There are some beautiful pictures of Miscanthus 'Gracillimus' on a Flickr Gallery. Click here to view.

Compare Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus' to our other grasses in this handy chart.


Miscanthus sinensis 'Gracillimus'
Maiden Grass
Image credit: Georges Jansoone, Creative Commons