Bring movement into your garden with ornamental grasses and colourful companions such as Miscanthus.

Botanical name: Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’
Common names: zebra grass, Chinese silver grass, eulalia
Origin: Native to eastern Asia and a member of the Poaceae family.

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ forms a dense, grassy clump over 1m tall and about 2m wide with a fountain-like habit. The arching, slender, ribbon-shaped leaves have dark green and cream stripes. Reed-like, tall flowering stems start appearing from late spring carrying beautiful dark pink or coppery plumes that remain on the plant until late autumn, eventually fading to a creamy colour.

Uses for Miscanthus

  • The dramatic foliage and plumes make this a great accent plant, or if planted in groups, a pretty backdrop in a mixed border.
  • Perfect for mass planting and to bind soil on a bank.
  • Lovely choice to plant near water elements or for a tropical-styled garden.
  • Fast-growing and bird-friendly.

Growing notes

  • Will grow anywhere except in very cold climates. It will tolerate some frost.
  • Plant it in full sun to light shade.
  • Will tolerate any soil type as long as it drains well.
  • Medium water requirements.
  • Plant in compost-enriched soil and feed with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser in spring.
  • Trim back firmly in late winter to allow for fresh new growth in spring.

Companion plants Miscanthus combines well with plants with contrasting leaf textures in dark green or silver.

Plant miscanthus with these plants for the best results

Agapanthus Dwarf agapanthus planted in bold groups in the foreground complements Miscanthus well. Choose ‘Lapis’ with dark blue flowers and a height of 40cm and ‘Double Diamond’, a prolific flowerer with double white flowers and a height of 20cm.

Dusty Miller Senecio cineraria ‘Silver Dust’ (syn. Jacobaea cineraria) has deeply divided silvery grey, to almost white leaves This plant is often used to create contrast.

Buxus Buxus microphylla ‘Faulkner’ is a top-selling topiary plant and often sold already shaped into balls. Adding a little of this formality around the relaxed zebra grass works well. The foliage is small, glossy and evergreen with a bronze tinge in winter.

The Japanese are especially fond of Miscanthus Sinensis, an ornamental grass that features prominently in their rituals.

Both of us have planted a new variety called Miscanthus Sinensis var. Condensatus ‘Cabaret’ and we were highly impressed with it. ‘Cabaret’ forms a dense clump over 1 m tall and about 2 m wide. Its slender, ribbon-shaped leaves have creamy white midriffs and very dark green edges. The reed-like flowering stems produce dark pink or coppery plumes that remain on the plant for some time, eventually fading to a creamy colour.

To enjoy it to best effect, plant ‘Cabaret’ near a water feature or in a grass garden with other ornamental grasses. It is also a good filler plant for a tropical style garden.

When do they Bloom?

The plumes appear in late spring and remain until autumn.

Most Suitable Climate

It grows everywhere except in very cold climates.

In a Nutshell

  • Elegant, striped, ornamental grass.
  • Most attractive near water features.
  • Good for tropical-style gardens.
  • Lovely wavy plumes.
The Gardener