What is Hakone Grass?

Vasanth S.

Hakone grass is a perennial plant that is part of the Poaceae family. It is native to Japan and features long, thin leaves that have an arching form. This plant is commonly used to enhance night gardens. It grows well in shaded areas and can thrive in well-draining soil. Hakone grass is rarely affected by pests or diseases.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Scientifically, hakone grass is known as Hakonechloa macra, and the common variety of the species that is cultivated is called aureola. Hakonechloa is the genus name; it is derived from the word hakon, which is a region in Japan that this plant is native to, and the word chloa, which is the Greek word for grass. The plant is also known as the golden variegated hakone grass or the golden Japanese forest grass.

Hakone grass grows 14 inches (35 cm) in height and spreads about 16 inches (40 cm). The entire plant features cascading leaves that are bright yellow and about a 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) wide. Each leave also has thin green stripes. During the autumn, the foliage becomes painted in shades of red. The plant does produce tiny flower spikes during the late summer and early fall.

This plant spreads very slowly through stolons, which are horizontal connections between individual plants. The stolons grow either at the soil surface or just below the surface. Since the grass grows very slowly, it is seldom divided.

Because of the slow groth rate, it is recommended to prune the plant to maintain its shape. This involves cutting old stems or rotted stems before the spring. Additionally, faded leaves may be removed to enhance the overall appearance of the plant.

It is recommended to plant hakone grass in partially shaded areas. The bright yellow leaves stand out among other shrubs that aren't as brightly colored. Also, the unique form of hakone grass provides contrast with other shade plants. The grass looks great when planted next to hostas and near tiarellas. Epimedium, astilbe, and wild ginger are good companion plants for this grass as well.

When growing hakone grass for ornamental reasons, it is recommended to plant it in well-draining soil that is rich in humus. The grass won't thrive in clay or dry soils. It can be planted in a container and pruned to achieve the cascading effect of the plant. This hardy grass can thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 5-9.

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