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Japanese Silver Grass – Graceful Perennial with Winter Appeal

Japanese Silver Grass – Miscanthus sinensis – is a perennial plant that has variegated green and white striped leaves and huge plumes in the fall that stall well above the top of the plant.

The plant can be used to hide neighboring views and completely cover a chain link fence. It also has lots of winter interest.

Plant it as a barrier to the rest of your yard to hide a meditation garden from prying eyes.

Be sure to give Japanese silver grass room to grow. A plant can grow as much as 14 feet tall in one season!

Keep reading to learn how to grow and care for this lovely grass perennial.

Japanese silver grass with feathery plumes on top.

I planted a small Japanese Silver Grass plant in my front bed last spring. I knew it would get fairly large so I wanted it to be a focal point at one end of the bed.

The plant did well last year, but this year it is just fabulous.  It is an easy care plant and all I have really had to do it make sure to cut it back in the fall so that I could keep it somewhat contained.

Japanese Silver Grass makes a Great Focal Plant

If you are looking for a large plant that is easy to grow and yet very striking, Japanese silver grass is the plant for you.

Silver grass. Amazing focal plant. Mine grew 9 feet in one season.

Size of Japanese silver grass

Give this perennial room to grow. It multiplies quickly and get up to 6-10 feet tall. I have it planted along an entire fence line with each plant about 5 feet apart.

Hardiness of silver grass

This is a tough perennial that will grow in many temperatures. It is cold hardy in zones 3-9.

Sunlight and watering needs for Japanese silver grass

This perennial likes full sun and well draining soil. Although it will grow in partial shade, the variegation will change to plain green leaves without sufficient sunlight.

Give silver grass even moisture for best results. Too much water will make mature plants top heavy. It is tough and can survive with mimimal moisture except on the hottest days.

I have not really done a lot of watering of my front border and mine is lovely.

Flower stalks

The plant has interesting wheat like flower stalks in late summer. It will self seed readily so you may want to remove these if you don’t want the plant to multiply. 

To me, the stalks are one of the prettiest parts of the plant!

Pruning Japanese silver grass

It is important to prune shrubs like Japanese silver grass before the growing season starts.

Cut back the plant about 6 inches from the ground in the spring before new shoots develop. It will fill in very quickly.

When the center of the plant starts to look less full, dig up and divide with a sharp knife to give you more plants.

Uses for Japanese silver grass

The plant can be used as a hedge if planted about 4 feet apart and does a great job of hiding fences.

Japanese silver Grass

This is my front bed showing a large butterfly bush on one end and the Japanese Silver Grass on the other. 

Front garden bedThe plant is nicely striped now, but a few months ago when it started growing this year, it as mainly green:

japanese silverI will add another picture later in the summer when it flowers!

Update:  September 13, 2013.  The silver grass has outdone itself this year!  It is about 9 feet tall and just covered in flurry grass like tufts.

End of the summer

The plant is about 5 feet wide now.  Make a lovely focus on one side of the garden bed.  It was so easy care. Got very little water other than natural rain and has been beautiful all summer.grassy tufts

There are dozens of these wheat like sprigs at the top now.close up of grass shaftsHere is a close up of the blossom.

It is hard to believe that I cut this to the ground last fall and it has managed to reach this size again in one season.  I will be doing the same thing this fall.

If  you are looking for a large focal plant, silver grass can’t be beat.

Update:  my Japanese silver grass got so large this year, it overgrew the space I had for it in my front garden bed.  My husband and I dug it up and made 6 divisions of it.  After a month of rooting in pots, I planted it along the fence line in my back garden to hide my neighbor’s yard, which can be unsightly at times.

Japanese silver grass on the fenceline.It took well and is quite large now.  Next year, the neighbor’s yard won’t be visible at all!

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Wednesday 7th of June 2023

Great information. I picked three orphans up at Lowe’s in distressed section for $2 each! They’ve been sitting in the sidelines for a few weeks now as I was perplexed on where to plant them. We have a section along the back driveway we’ve been thinking about building a fence to hide the garbage cans and green egg and after reading your article think these would be a great solution instead. Excited to plant them in today!!


Monday 26th of December 2022

Do you know where I can order seeds?

Carol Speake

Monday 2nd of January 2023

HI Shaunna. I have only ever seen these for sale locally as plants. I just checked online, Seed World has the seeds for sale but I have not tried to grow them.


Tuesday 20th of September 2022

Can I plant the plumes to help it spread instead of digging it up and dividing it? Are the plumes all seeds?


Carol Speake

Tuesday 20th of September 2022

The plumes are seed heads. They won't grow new plants. Propagation is by division. Each section needs a good clump of roots and foliage.


Friday 22nd of October 2021

Hi! I just purchased 3 of these plants on clearance. Today is the Oct 22nd in Central Indiana. and I'm concerned it may be be too late to try and plant my grasses. Should I attempt to plant or put them in a bigger pot and keep in the garage/barn over the winter? Thanks in advance!

Carol Speake

Friday 22nd of October 2021

Japanese silver grass is best planted in the spring. I'd be concerned about planting new plants close to an expected frost date.


Wednesday 19th of May 2021

How well did your grass cover up your neighbors' unsightly backyard? We live in a town where privacy fences are not allowed and I need my privacy in my backyard! Also how long did it take to get your plant up to the 6' height? I am hoping to find gallon containers, this will be much quicker than putting in Arborvide and I am sure a lot less expensive. Thank heavens I only need to do this along the back of the lot, which of course is the longest! Thanks.

Carol Speake

Thursday 20th of May 2021

They can grow to 6 feet in one season if you start with a good sized plant.

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