Behind My Garden Gate: Japanese Forest Grass

Are you looking for an easy to grow plant to lighten your shade garden? I would strongly recommend the Japanese Forest Grass – Hakenochloa macro ‘Aureola’. It is best grown under trees in partial shade to full shade. In partial shade, the leaves are slightly variegated lime-green and yellow. In full shade, the leaves tend to be just lime-green. It is best grown under a deciduous tree, not a conifer. I have several plants that dried out in too much sun in August, but I noticed new leaf growth in the fall.

The plants are slow growing and my two-year-old plants are about a foot tall and a foot wide. Its cascading shape looks great with many shade plants, especially hellebores. I like to plant them in drifts of three to five plants. I do not cut back the grasses until the spring since they provide great winter interest.

I bought my first plants at the Denver Botanic Garden’s plant sale and I found additional plants at local nurseries, but those plants were not as large as those purchased at DBG. I was not aware of this plant on the East Coast but the ‘Aureola’ cultivar was given the Royal Horticultural Soceity’s Award of Garden Merit.