Hakonechloa macra

Japanese forest grass

Outstanding Qualities

Hakonechloa macra, Japanese forest grass, is an understated and underused aristocrat in the shade garden. This deciduous grass forms airy mounds of medium-green arching blades. It is slightly taller and more upright than other Japanese forest grasses, reaching a little over 2 feet in height. The true asset of the grass is the textural effect in the landscape. Rippling gently in the slightest breeze the motion created by Japanese forest grass brings the garden alive. Its light texture makes it a good container plant contrasting with other more rigid plants. Use Hakonechloa macra as a solid ground cover under small trees or under large shrubs. It also looks good with bold, foliage plants such as bergenias, podophyllums, hostas, and works as a nice contrast with ferns. It is a natural for Japanese gardens.

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: black, variegated, silver

Great Color Partners: dark green, gold, chartreuse

Culture Notes

Plant this Japanese forest grass in well-drained soil with full sun to dappled shade, avoid hot afternoon sun. Provide regular watering during dry weather to keep the grass looking lush and full. It can be divided in winter to early spring before the new foliage starts to emerge. Fall color is a pleasant straw tone; once it browns it can be cut to the ground.

© Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Quick Facts

Plant Type: perennial

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 2 ft. 0 in. (0.61 m.)

Plant Width/Spread: 4 ft. 0 in. (1.22 m.)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 8

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to dappled shade

Water Requirements: regular watering