The Q&A Archives: variegated japanese silver grass

Question: I planted japanese silver grass last August and the plants were healthy and beautiful. This year they are struggling and maybe 25% of the plant on all 3 grasses has emerged. Do you have any suggestions for care? Will they do better next year?

Answer: The results you described are consistent with a winter hardiness problem. Miscanthus sinensis 'Variegatus' is considered hardy into zone 5. Your zip code places you in zone 5A, the coldest part of the zone. However it is possible that if your microclimate is a cold one (windy or exposed, rural and open) then you are actually gardening in a zone 4 situation. Plants set out in the fall are somewhat more subject to winter damage than those planted in the spring, so this may not be representative of their performance over time. I would suggest you mulch around them (not over top of them) in late fall and wait until early spring to trim them back. Fertilize them in early spring and make sure they are well watered. This, plus an extra year in the ground to become better established, may help them get through the winter and recover a bit better. If not, you may want to try a different, more winter hardy plant instead. I'm sorry these are not doing so well for you.

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