November 2012 Plant Profile: Miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Kitten’

November 6th, 2012 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

Ornamental grasses begin to put on a show in autumn as striking blades of silvery light greens transition to deep yellows and tans adding structure and textures during a time of year  perennial beds are cut back and put to rest. The genus Miscanthus is a staple of ornamental grasses.  Native to Japan and China, they are tough and easy to care for.

Once established, they are drought tolerant, easily maintained, and typically possess year round interest. Some selections, however, have had a reputation for being too large of an ornamental grass for small urban gardens. They may be overly vigorous, and in some occasions, relentlessly self seeding. There’s a remarkable array to choose from, but there was a cultivar two years ago that caught my eye and has continually impressed me.

‘Little Kitten’ has been a pleasant and manageable ornamental grass that stays tidy and it has a soft, demure elegance to it when used singly as a specimen and it adds a wonderful foil to bold foliage late in the season in containers massed as a small group.


Common Name: Dwarf Maiden Hair Grass

Location: Soest Garden Bed 4 (Rear)

Origin: Garden Origin

Exposure: Full Sun/Part Shade

Height and spread: 3-4ft. tall x 3ft. wide

Bloom Time: mid-late Autumn


November 2008 Plant Profile: Miscanthus sinensis

November 1st, 2008 by Soest Gardener, Riz Reyes

The most common and popular of the large ornamental grasses, Miscanthus sinensis comes in many different forms and variations just to suit any garden that requires very little care and year round interest. Perhaps the oldest and most well known variety of Maiden Grass is ‘Gracillimus’ (pictured here); Miscanthus sinensis are dependable plants that can thrive in poor soils and is quite drought tolerant once established. It is spectacular as a specimen or used as a large mass planting in the landscape and truly provides year round appeal (yes, even when it’s cut back in spring, the sheared mounds looks very attractive!). The one fault many M. sinensis cultivars have, however, is the splaying habit they have once they mature in the season and prepare to flower in the fall. ‘Morning Light’ is a variegated cultivar with a more upright habit and less prone to splitting from the center. One technique one of our librarians, Carrie Bonham, suggested is to cut back Miscanthus sinensis in mid-summer so it develops a new flush of blades that stay more compact. You lose the bloom, but the result is a clump of grasses that’s far more manageable and in scale with the rest of the plants in the border. In November, the long blades of grass turn a wonderful shade of yellow and orange with the frothy maroon plumes just starting to open.

Location: Bed 8 and South Slope (see the cut-back grasses by the Osmanthus hedge).
Family: Poaceae
Origin: Original species from Easter Asia (China, Korea, Japan)
Height: 3-6+ ft.
Spread: 3-6 ft.
Bloom Time: November
Bloom Color: Purple maroon plumes
Sun: Full Sun
Water: Medium-Low moisture. Various soil conditions.