Noninvasive varieties of maiden grass available now

Miscanthus 'Scout' waving in a breeze
The ‘Scout’ variety of maiden grass adds interest to your garden when it waves in a breeze. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
'My Fair Maiden' grass
‘My Fair Maiden’ can be 9 feet tall with fluffy flower plumes. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

 

by Connie Oswald Stofko

If you like the looks of maiden grass, but were put off because it is labeled invasive, there is good news. Noninvasive varieties of Miscanthus sinensis or maiden grass are now available, said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville.

And if you’ve never heard of maiden grass, check these new varieties out. They look good now with attractive foliage, but they’re even better in autumn when they get spectacular, fluffy flowers. It’s a good way to prolong interest in your garden when other perennials may be fading.

They’re deer resistant, too.

Background on DEC regulations

When garden centers sell Miscanthus sinensis, they have to tag it as invasive because it is designated as “regulated” by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Regulated species can be planted in your garden, but not in a wild area because those regulated plants might outcompete native plants. (See the entire definition of “regulated” here.) Garden centers can sell regulated plants, but they have to tag the plants as invasive.

Now you can have the looks of maiden grass without any worries about it spreading into wild areas. There are two new sterile varieties of Miscanthus sinensis that are exempt from the regulated designation: ‘Scout’ and ‘My Fair Maiden’.

Miscanthus 'Bandwidth' in Amherst
‘Bandwidth’ gets its name from the yellow bands on the green foliage. While growers say it is sterile, it hasn’t yet been deemed noninvasive by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

A third variety, ‘Bandwidth’, is described by growers as infertile, but the DEC said it needs more information on sterility before that variety can also be exempt.

Why you should use maiden grass

Ornamental grasses in general are versatile because they come in such a variety of sizes, Yadon noted. They can grow anywhere from one foot tall to nine feet tall, and any height in between.

You can use an ornamental grass such as ‘Bandwidth’ as a low-growing, mounding plant in the front of a garden or in a pot. Taller varieties, such as ‘Scout’, which gets 5 to 6 feet tall, and ‘My Fair Maiden’, which gets 6 to 8 feet tall, can be used as a barrier to give you some privacy.

These grasses are perennials and will reliably come back each year, Yadon said.

You can plant them now.

‘Scout’

‘Scout’ looks lovely waving in the breeze. The foliage is solid green with a slender white midrib, taking on warm, vibrant fall colors as temperatures go down. It can get up to 6 feet tall by the end of summer, topped off with spectacular fluffy, pinkish flowers. It grows in full sun to part shade. 

‘My Fair Maiden’

‘My Fair Maiden’ has a vase shape and forms a dramatic mass in your landscape. The sturdy blades can get 6 feet tall, with flower plumes reaching 9 feet. The solid green blades feature prominent white midribs. It grows in sun.

‘Bandwidth’

At maturity, ‘Bandwidth’ gets only 3 feet tall— and that’s to the tops of the plumes. I’ve been growing it in a container since spring and it’s only 2 tall. It gets its name from the attractive yellow bands on the green foliage. ‘Bandwidth’ will get airy golden brown plumes in the fall, which persist into winter. It grows in sun. (‘Bandwidth’ has been described by growers as sterile, but the DEC said it needs more information before it changes its designation.)
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