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How to Grow Japanese Forest Grass

By Jenny Harrington ; Updated September 21, 2017

Japanese forest grass, or hakone grass, is native to the island of Honshu, Japan. A shade loving ornamental, it grows well in most of the United States. The grass may reach a diameter of 3 feet, but is slow to grow and this takes many years. Grow in beds and borders or in containers, setting the plant on low hillocks or walls so the leaves cascade down attractively. The leaves grow from small stems, almost bamboo-like in appearance, and often are variegated with white and green. They turn gold in autumn before dying back in winter.

Purchase container grown plants from a reputable garden center or nursery. Plan planting in the spring while the plant is actively growing.

Choose a rich, well-drained garden bed in partial to full shade. Work in compost to improve drainage and form low hills for the grass to cascade down.

Dig the planting hole twice as wide as the container the grass is in and 3 inches deeper. Space grasses 10 inches apart if planting more than one.

Work a balanced slow release fertilizer into the bottom of the planting hole. Place a ½ inch layer of soil on top the fertilizer so it isn't in direct contact with the roots.

Set the plant in the whole spreading the roots slightly. Fill in the hole with soil, keeping the crown of the plant level with the soil surface.

Water well after planting. Water as needed throughout spring, summer and early fall to keep the soil moist but not soaking wet.


Things You Will Need

  • Compost
  • Spade
  • Fertilizer


  • Leaf variegation happens in partial shade, full shade leads to single colored leaves.
  • Allow the grass to die back naturally in autumn. Cut back the dead leaves in winter or early spring before the grass begins actively growing again.
  • Divide the grass rhizomes every three to four years.


  • Japanese forest grass is prone to sunburn, avoid planting in direct sunlight.
  • Move container grown grass into a cool garage in winter as it won't survive freezing in a pot.

About the Author


Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.