Thursday, March 11, 2010


Hakonechloa, or Japanese Forest Grass, is a fantastic grass for shaded or partially shaded locations. Its flowing mound habit gives it a dwarf bamboo kind of look and makes it a great accent plant that can brighten up a shaded garden. In general, Hakonechloa wants to be in a rich, loose, well-drained soil that is moisture retentive. There is a lot of conflicting information about its hardiness, and I think a lot of that has to do with its demanding soil requirements. This plant is not happy in poor soil, and commonly dies out in a year or two even in warmer zones. In good soil it thrives but is still slow growing. I've seen 'Aureola' overwinter and grow successfully in zone 4 here in WI.

'Aureola' is the most commonly encountered variety and was the 2009 PPA Perennial Plant of the Year. It has yellow leaves streaked with green, and may get some red fall color. My clump planted in 2002 is now about 4' wide x 15" tall. Seems to hold its color well in the shade. Due to the difficulties the general gardening public might have with growing Hakonechloa, I wasn't enthused with the 2009 PPA award regardless of how much I love this genus.

'Sunny Delight' is basically the reverse form of 'Aureola'. Leaves are mostly green with some nice gold streaking. It is more vigorous and larger than 'Aureola'. It's a really great plant but sadly it isn't widely available in the trade.

'All Gold' is a newer solid gold variety. It seems somewhat more vigorous and has better color with some morning sun. Too much sun and it will scorch. This one is surprisingly more vigorous than 'Aureola' in my experience.

'Stripe it Rich' is a newer gold variety with white streaks. It appreciates similar sun exposure as 'All gold. This one is not as vigorous as 'All Gold' but is still quite nice. It's also hard to find.

'Albo-Striata' is an older variety that has green leaves with white streaks. The title to the blog has a picture of this variety growing at Olbrich Botanic Garden in Madison. More vigorous than 'Aureola', and is the largest variety I've encountered so far.

'Fubuki' is a newer variety released by Briggs Nursery that has white leaves with green streaks. I still need to get one in the garden, but in pots it was quite vigorous for being so white.

There are a number of green-leaved varieties that get some reddish fall color, including:

'Beni-Kazi', 'Naomi', and 'Nicolas'. I have not grown any of them yet. The nicest pictures I've seen have been of 'Beni-Kazi', but I will probably find all three of the above at some point to grow them and compare.

1 comment:

  1. I love these and grow both Aureola and All Gold but they are SO slow growing. I want those big, beautiful mounds you see in photos! This is definitely a plant that tries one's patience.


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