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Hakonechloa is the genus name for a species of grass that is native to Japan. As a member of the Poaceae family, this perennial grass usually grows in clumps and is found in mountain and wooded regions. It is also known by its common name, Japanese forest grass. The single species, Hakonechloa macra, is identified by its smooth leaves and small spikes. Because the leaves are variegated or multi-colored, it is often used as an ornamental grass along garden borders, in containers, or in gardens.
The leaves of Hakonechloa macra can grow to 10 inches (about 25.4 cm) long, but a mound of perennial grass can actually grow to 30 inches (about 76.2 cm) tall. As the leaves or grass blades mature, they tend to form arches or flowing crowns. The lance-like leaves are typically greenish-yellow with thin green or cream striping.
In the fall, the leaves of Hakonechloa macra will turn red or maroon in color. It will retain the red color well into the winter months. In addition, a few months out of the year, the plants form needle-like spikes that eventually become new growth.
Although they are hardy to -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius), it is important to give the grasses of the genus Hakonechloa plenty of protection from drying, cold winds. In fact, it is rather easy to grow Hakonechloa. It prefers to have rich soil. The soil should be moist, but should also drain easily. It can grow in partial shade or in full sun, but the coloring of the leaves is best when it grows in partial shade. In addition, it is a hardy grass and it is not often affected by many pests or diseases.
People wanting to plant Hakonechloa in their gardens may find that it looks best when it is planted in groups of at least three plants. The plants slowly expand over time and give most gardens a colorful border if the grasses are planted in partial shade. In addition, many people enjoy the way the grasses rustle in the wind and give a calming, undulating effect with a gentle breeze. As a result, many people plant the grasses in containers, and leave the containers close to the house where they can appreciate both the sight and sounds of the grasses.
Although Hakonechloa can be planted via seed, it usually takes quite some time before the grasses are large enough to cultivate outside. As a result, it typically is best to buy the plants from a garden store or a nursery. In addition, the grasses can be divided during the spring month, thereby increasing the number of mounds in a garden or container without spending additional money on new plants.