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Miscanthus sinensis Maiden Grass

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


Maiden grass is a gracefully arching, fine-textured grass that forms dense, green clumps. Slender leaves originate in a clump, spreading out and up like a fountain. The 5 to 6 foot tall clumps bear pink flowers in late summer and fall that can be used for drying or as a dye plant. Their pinkish or silvery 8 to 10 inch long plumes persist into the winter. Foliage is flexible and blows easily in the wind. This shrub-like grass turns to a rich gold in the fall; the fall color lasts through the winter.

Full Form - Miscanthus sinensis: Maiden Grass
Figure 1. Full Form - Miscanthus sinensis: Maiden Grass
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


Leaf - Miscanthus sinensis: Maiden Grass
Figure 2. Leaf - Miscanthus sinensis: Maiden Grass
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


Flower - Miscanthus sinensis: Maiden Grass
Figure 3. Flower - Miscanthus sinensis: Maiden Grass
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Description

Scientific name: Miscanthus sinensis

Pronunciation: miss-KANTH-us sye-NEN-sis

Common name(s): maiden grass, Chinese silvergrass, zebragrass

Family: Poaceae

Plant type: herbaceous; ornamental grass

USDA hardiness zones: 4 through 9 (Figure 4)

Planting month for zone 7: year-round

Planting month for zone 8: year-round

Planting month for zone 9: year-round

Origin: native to temperate and tropical Asia

Invasive potential: not considered a problem species at this time and may be recommended by UF/IFAS faculty (reassess in 10 years)

Uses: mass planting; border; container or above-ground planter; screen; accent

Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 4. Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 5 to 6 feet

Spread: 5 to 10 feet

Plant habit: upright

Plant density: moderate

Growth rate: fast

Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: alternate

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: serrate

Leaf shape: lanceolate

Leaf venation: parallel

Leaf type and persistence: deciduous

Leaf blade length: more than 36 inches

Leaf color: variegated

Fall color: brown or tan

Fall characteristic: showy


Flower color: red

Flower characteristic: summer flowering; fall flowering


Fruit shape: no fruit

Fruit length: no fruit

Fruit cover: no fruit

Fruit color: no fruit

Fruit characteristic: no fruit

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems

Current year stem/twig color: not applicable

Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable


Light requirement: plant grows in full sun

Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; acidic; sand; loam; clay; slightly alkaline

Drought tolerance: moderate

Soil salt tolerances: poor

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: not applicable

Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers

Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more

Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

Maiden grass is frequently used in the landscape as a specimen or screen. It is also employed in group plantings, forming a nice mass of fine-textured foliage, especially near a water garden or pond. Use maiden grass as an accent or mass planted in a large-scale landscape, such as around a commercial building to add a touch of soft elegance and texture. The slightest breeze moves the foliage, allowing the landscape to come alive. Many people prefer to cut the grass back to the ground in the spring so new green growth is not mixed with last year's dried, brown foliage.

Maiden grass requires a location in the landscape that receives full sun, but it is adaptable to most well-drained soils. This ornamental grass is quite drought tolerant. Miscanthus sinensis is a warm season grass and transplants best in the spring. Provide good drainage at the planting site. Three- and four-year-old plants tend to flop over and might thin in the center of the clump. They can be divided or cut back to encourage more upright growth.

Cultivars include 'Condensatus', coarser leaf texture than species, mid-summer bloom, 7 to 8 feet tall; 'Gracillimus', narrower leaves than species, fall bloom, upright growth habit from 5 to 8 feet tall; 'Purpurescens', reddish foliage in summer, purple-red foliage in fall, silver-pink inflorescence, mid-summer bloom, 4 to 5 feet tall; 'Silver Feather', silvery white flowers in mid-summer; 'Strictus', horizontal yellow bands on foliage, upright growth habit, 6 to 8 feet tall; 'Variegatus', white variegation on leaf margin, does relatively well in partial shade, to 7 feet tall; 'Yaku Jima', more compact, 3 to 4 feet tall; 'Zebrinus', horizontal yellow bands on foliage, wide spreading habit, to 7 feet tall.

The propagation of Miscanthus sinensis is by division in the spring.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern.

Rust diseases occasionally infest the foliage, but it often goes away in drier weather.

Publication #FPS405

Release Date:November 27, 2023

Related Collections

Part of Shrubs Fact Sheets

  • Critical Issue: 1. Agricultural and Horticultural Enterprises
Organism ID

About this Publication

This document is FPS405, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date September 1999. Revised October 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Gail Hansen, professor, sustainable landscape design; Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman
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