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How to Care for Maiden Grass

silver seed head image by hazel proudlove from

Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis) is an ornamental grass with a fine-textured, graceful appearance. In late summer, the clump of maiden grass blooms with pale pink flowers and the silvery plumes bend and sway in the wind through fall and into the winter months, giving the popular grass its other names: Japanese silver grass or Chinese silver grass. Maiden grass can grow to heights of 4 to 8 feet and can have a 6-foot span at maturity.

Give maiden grass at least an inch of water per week for its first year. Water by allowing a hose to drip slowly at the base of the plant. After the first year, normal rainfall will provide adequate moisture.

Fertilize maiden grass every spring, using a balanced timed-release fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer to the maiden grass according to the manufacturer's directions.

Spread 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the base of the maiden grass every fall, using an organic mulch such as pine needles, chopped leaves or bark chips. Mulch protects the roots from freezing during the winter and adds nutrients to the soil.

Leave the foliage at the end of the growing season to add interest to the landscape all winter. In spring, use garden pruners to cut the clump of maiden grass to 8 inches above the ground. The maiden grass will rejuvenate and grow back quickly.

Divide the maiden grass every three to four years. Dig up the entire plant with the root ball, and then cut the clump in half with a shovel. If desired, cut each clump in half again. Dispose of any old, unproductive areas, and replant the clumps in full sunlight.

Care For Maiden Grass

Maiden grass benefits from regular watering and consistently moist soil during its first year. To establish long, healthy roots, water deeply to saturate the root zone. Maiden grass is a light feeder and too much fertilizer results in weak growth and a plant that falls over because it isn't sturdy enough to stand up straight. The plant benefits from an annual feeding applied before new growth emerges in early spring. Clumps of dry maiden grass provide winter interest to the landscape, but pruning in late winter or early spring removes old, dry growth and encourages the emergence of new growth. Cut the plant to about 4 to 6 inches, using sturdy garden pruners or hedge shears. Wear garden gloves to protect your hands from the edges of the dry blades of grass. Maintain the appearance and vitality of maiden grass by dividing it regularly. Plant the new sections immediately and water them thoroughly.

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