Morning Ornamental Grass

Overview

Morning light ornamental grass (Miscanthus sinensis "Morning Light") is used less frequently than other varieties of miscanthus, but it has many great qualities. According to the Missouri Botanic Garden, morning light grows 4 to 6 feet and stands upright without collapsing. It is a clumping form of ornamental grass with very narrow variegated blades that seem to glow from within when the light hits. Morning light is not officially an invasive plant, according to the University of Minnesota, but gardeners should watch for seedlings.

History

Older miscanthus varieties originated in Japan and became popular in America 100 years ago, according to the University of Minnesota. It was called Eulalia grass then and this common name is still attached to miscanthus, even to newer varieties such as morning light. In the late 1970s, landscape architects Wolfgang Oehme and James van Sweden used ornamental grasses in designs, broadening their use, in a style sometimes called the "New American Landscape," according to Bluestem Nurseries in Texas.

Growth and Cultural Needs

Morning light prefers a full sun to partial shade location and good soil, and likes to be moist. According to the Missouri Botanic Garden, it tolerates other conditions, such as clay soil. In too much shade, morning light flowers less and "flops." It has reddish plumes or inflorescences that age to white, blooming later than other miscanthus varieties. It is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9.

Diseases and Problems

Miscanthus varieties, including morning light, do not have many problems or diseases, but the Missouri Botanic Garden reports that a miscanthus mealy bug is attacking the grass in some parts of the country, hiding between the blades and stems where it is hard to destroy. This problem should be suspected if the grass looks stunted. A miscanthus blight is also appearing causing damage to the blades. Sometimes a rust affects the plant, but doesn't kill it.

In the Landscape

As morning light is shorter than other miscanthus, it will fit where other varieties often overpower. It goes well with other perennials such as purple coneflower (Echinacea) and Russian sage (Perovskia) for a natural look. Missouri Botanic Garden calls morning light a "versatile" grass, at home in natural gardens and in borders. Bluestem Nursery, in talking about Oehme and van Sweden's landscape style, describes their method of combining grasses and other perennials as art in nature.

Invasive Species

The University of Minnesota warns that some species of miscanthus, primarily a wild type, have become invasive in some parts of the country and that named varieties were not the problem as of February 2010. Although scientists have tested morning light and others and have found minimal seed production, they caution gardeners to plant the grasses, including morning light, in areas away from roadways and fields where it could naturalize.

Keywords: morning light ornamental grass, miscanthus sinensis 'morning light', maiden grass, eulalia grass