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Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens' 'Purpurascens’ Japanese Silver Grass

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


Maiden grass is a gracefully arching, fine-textured grass that forms dense, reddish-green clumps. Slender leaves originate in a clump, spreading out and up like a fountain. The 3 to 4 foot tall clumps bear silver-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 orange or reddish-purple in early fall; the fall color lasts through the winter.

Full Form - Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens': 'Purpurascens’ Japanese Silver Grass
Figure 1. Full Form - Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens': 'Purpurascens’ Japanese silver grass. 
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS 


General Information

Scientific name: Miscanthus sinensis 'Purpurascens'

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

Common name(s): 'Purpurascens' Japanese silver grass, flame grass, maiden grass

Family: Poaceae

Plant type: herbaceous; ornamental grass

USDA hardiness zones: 7 through 9 (Figure 2)

Planting month for zone 7: year round

Planting month for zone 8: year round

Planting month for zone 9: year round

Origin: not native to North America

Invasive potential: aggressive, spreading plant

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 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 3 to 4 feet

Spread: 3 to 5 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: purple or red

Fall color: red

Fall characteristic: showy


Flower color: white; pink

Flower characteristic: summer 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. 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 covered 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.

Other 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 #FPS408

Release Date:January 11, 2024

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About this Publication

This document is FPS408, 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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