Prized for its gracefully arching foliage, Hakone grass (also known as Japanese forest grass) is a tough ornamental grass that loves moist, shady conditions. This plant forms dense mounds of slender leaves that start solid green, solid golden, or variegated, then change to coppery orange as fall’s cooler weather comes into play. The mounding clumps of grassy leaves gradually increase in size over the years, but so slowly that they never become invasive. Use this low-maintenance perennial grass as an accent or a groundcover, around trees, in containers, along paths, or grouped with companion plants.
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With its cascading mounds of leaves and variety of hues, Hakone grass adds graceful texture and bright color to any garden. Provide a counterpoint to Hakone grass's elegant lines with plants that display larger leaves, such as hostas. Choose cultivars with solid golden leaves or golden streaked with green to provide an especially striking backdrop to plants with blue flowers.
Hakone Grass Care Must-Knows
Plant Hakone grass in part shade and evenly moist, organic-rich, well-drained soil to gain the lushest growth. Variegated and golden selections of this perennial like some shade in the summer to avoid scorching. Greener varieties can tolerate a little more sun. Keep in mind that plants in full sun will require additional watering.
Hakone grass is a low-maintenance option for your landscape. You do need to mulch it in winter and cut its foliage back to the ground in late winter or early spring before new growth appears. If needed, divide the clumps, which spread by rhizomes, in spring.
More Varieties of Hakone Grass
Golden Japanese Forest Grass
Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola' is the best cultivar to brighten gently shaded places in the garden. Its lovely golden-yellow leaves are striped with green and arch gracefully toward the light. Zones 5-9
Hakone Grass Companion Plants
This plant hardly grown 40 years ago is now one of the most commonly grown garden plants. But hosta has earned its spot in the hearts of gardeners—it's among the easiest plants to grow, as long as you have some shade and ample rainfall. Hostas vary from tiny plants suitable for troughs or rock gardens to massive 4-foot clumps with heart-shape leaves almost 2 feet long that can be puckered, wavy-edged, white or green variegated, blue-gray, chartreuse, emerald-edged—the variations are virtually endless. Hostas in new sizes and touting new foliage features seem to appear each year. This tough, shade-loving perennial, also known as plaintain lily, blooms with white or purplish lavender funnel-shape or flared flowers in summer. Some are intensely fragrant. Hostas are a favorite of slug and deer.
For that shady spot, you can't go wrong with holly ferns. Their evergreen fronds always look good and they mix well with other shade lovers, without taking over. They can be planted close and massed as a groundcover, or used as accent plants where soil is rich and well-drained.
Perfect for cottage and woodland gardens, old-fashioned columbines are available in almost all colors of the rainbow. Intricate little flowers, they are most commonly a combination of red, peach, and yellow but also blues, whites, pure yellows, and pinks; they look almost like folded paper lanterns. Columbine thrives in sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soil. Plants tend to be short-lived but self-seed readily, often creating natural hybrids with other nearby columbines. If you want to prevent self-seeding, deadhead plants after bloom.