Hakone Grass Questions

shadylady_pa(Z6 PA)May 23, 2005

Hi all. This is my first venture into the Ornamental Grasses forum. But I'm quickly falling in love with grasses and may be here much more often.

Anyway, I have a stream bank that I would like to line with Hakone grass of some kind. I haven't seen it for sale in my local nurseries (I'm in zone 6).

So, what I would like to know is (1) whether it would do well in a fairly wet environment. It won't be sitting in water at all, but it will probably get pretty constant moisture; (2) whether it spreads quickly enough that I would be able to buy just a few plants and divide them up; and (3) if it doesn't multiply very rapidly, where I could acquire a large number of plants inexpensively or whether I could start some from seed.

Thanks so much!

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1. It will love a stream side, as long as the soil drains.

2. It grows slowly, compared to many other grasses.

3. A variety of places sell 'plugs' of Hakone. An example is Green Mountain Transplants, linked below. They get $5-6 per plug in a tray of 32, so they're still pretty expensive. If they set viable seed, chances are the seeds won't come true to the parent.

Here is a link that might be useful: Green Mountain Transplants

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 5:06PM
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This species has shown up at a local Home Depot recently. One gallons run you $5.95.
Very nice grass. Still pricey and somewhat hard to find.
But a stunner in the landscape in the correct location.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 6:24PM
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sage_lover(z6 OH)

After seeing great photos of this plant I have wanted to try it for several years myself. In Cincinnati we have clay, alkaline soil which does not drain very well. I have not seen it planted around here and several wholesalers I use do not carry it which leads me to believe it would be unhappy in our soil. Very cool looking grass though! Would love to hear more about this grass & everones experience with it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 7:09PM
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Wow! $6/gallon? I'm hitting Home Despot tomorrow. I never look at their plants, but perhaps I should start. Is it the 'Aurea' version?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2005 at 7:23PM
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I bought a couple of Golden Hakones in 1-gallon pots last spring and divided them in half. They are hard to divide as the roots are wiry and hard to cut. The clumps also did not divide evenly. I am growing them on the edge of my shade bed, which is elevated and has clay soil with organic matter mixed in. They grew fairly well last summer but did not increase much in size this year. They are beautiful grasses, but not something that will grow quickly -- which actually an advantage from my viewpoint. Too many plants that grow quickly turn out to be invasive. I bought my Hakones at a nursery for about $10-12 a pot. If I could find them for $5-6, I would buy some more.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 1:05PM
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Hey Donn: yes, it is "aurea". And the pots are not really one gallons. They're a little smaller, now that I recall. But I thought it was a good deal. I bought 3.

I hit 3 Home Depots in this area on a regular basis, but only 1 had the hakone grass. Selection from store to store can vary.

Anyways, last year stipa "ponytails" started showing up at the Big Box stores. Maybe this year, they decided to include some Hakone.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 4:50PM
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Mine didn't have any grasses at all, and the plants they did have looked like candidates for the compost bin.

I'll break down, someday, and buy some plants to divide, but in the meanwhile, I'm trying to grow Millium effusum 'Aureum' from seed. It's a poor-man's substitute. So far, only one cell has germinated.

I'm also growing "ponytails" from seed (it's been changed from Stipa to Nasella). I have a packet from Jelitto out there, and I bought a dozen packets from Park's and will be sowing them soon. 30% off the seeds, and a 25% discount gift certificate, made them a good buy.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2005 at 6:19PM
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Speaking of Home Depot, my local store is carrying Isolepsis or Optical Fiber Plant right now. Never thought I would find that there, as I haven't even seen it in any nurseries around here. I bought a pot for about $3 and it makes a nice conversation piece on my patio.

My HD also carries Mexican Feather Grass or Nasella/Stipa for the same price and the ever-present purple fountain grass and Karl Foerster feather reed grass. Last year they carried a lot of nice grass varieties and I picked up a huge Miscanthus "Adagio" for about $6 that I divided in half, and it still made two big clumps in my garden. That has turned out to be my best ornamental grass so far, with the possible exception of N. Sea Oats.

Grasses are so late to start growing that I think a lot of the nurseries and big box stores are just beginning to stock them for summer. Many varieties just don't grow much until the weather warms up for good. I'm hoping HD and Lowes will have some other varieties soon.

BTW, my local Lowes just got in a shipment of black bamboo in 5-gallon pots last week. They didn't have it priced yet and the sales person didn't know the price either, but it sells for $90 a pot in the one local nursery that carries it.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 8:24AM
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blackie57(z5 NY Broome Co)

I saw Fiber Optic grass in my local Lowes last week. I had never seen it before and it looked incredibly interesting. I was going to buy a couple until I saw it was only hardy to zone 9. I put it back on the rack. Don't want something that's only gunna last one season....

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 9:05AM
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According to one of my grass books, optical fiber plant makes an excellent house plant and has very low light requirements. So I plan to bring mine inside once the weather gets too cold for it outside.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 10:52PM
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wyndyacre(z6B SW Ont.)

I have several clumps of Hakone grass growing in different locations in my garden. All locations are deep shade and beneath 70 year old spruce trees which make the clay/loam soil fairly dry. In spite of that, all clumps are doing well with the best one being the one that gets the some mid-day sun. I add compost every year, mulch with finely ground evergreen woodchips and water in the driest part of the summer.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 11:29PM
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I planted three quart pots of hakon grass three years ago and two more pots the following year. Two have apparently died off, two are down to 1-2 blades, and one seems to have increased ever so slightly. They're in an area that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Soil is nice and loamy due to years of leaves falling and composting there. What am I doing wrong??

    Bookmark   May 27, 2005 at 3:46PM
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gillespiegardens(Z6 cinti ohio)

sage lover:

i live in eastern cincinnati and i have had this grass in my gardens for about 6 yrs. i had one plant ...jsut a few sprigs ) from a trade that didnt last more than 2 yrs. i purchased a small clump at a store and i also traded with another gardenwebber and added it to the existing clump. these i have had for about 4 yrs now/... and the growth is painfully slow but it is a viable healthy clump at the moment. the new location is also in a microclimate of sorts as it is now living on the side of my house.... in between me and my neighbor's home. i have it in midday sun. the first plant that died was planted under a pine tree with midday sun. i think the pine tree made the soil too dry for it. try relocating it to an area a bit sunnier but still shady and in better soil. i hope you can find just the right location for your grass. i think that is probably the key.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 11:09PM
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bambooo(6 CT USA)

In zone 6 give your hakone a bit more sun

    Bookmark   May 29, 2005 at 7:09PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Is variegated hakone grass hardy in zone 5? I have some I received last fall from Texas in a trade, kept and divided it in the greenhouse all winter, and planted out this spring. I'm just wondering if I need to dig it up this fall.
It's growing real well here in the heavy Indiana clay soil.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 8:29AM
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Hey Don,

I just bought three 1.5 gallon pots of 'Aurea' at the home depot in syosset for 9.99 ea. They didn't have many left.
They were in full sun too ;-) HD can kill plants very quickly.



    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 5:05PM
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gillespiegardens(Z6 cinti ohio)

if you are desiring the traditional hakone grass then make sure you get Hakonechloa macra 'Aurea'
i have found a number of hakone grasses out on the market with verrry similar names to the Aurea... or the sales person was pushing one of them as 'Aurea
and i knew darn well it wasnt!!!!

"The one thing all gardeners share in common is a belief in tomorrow"

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 10:14PM
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I've got this year an macra "All Gold", which just glows a solid limey-green/yellow. pretty cool. mine has gotten bigger in almost full shade.

all the "Aurea" I've seen for sale has looked horrible... doesnt seem to do well sitting in pots

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 10:29AM
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lyael(z10 CA, ss 23)

Does hakone grass not grow in Southern California? I'm in San Diego (Sunset zone 23) and can't find it anywhere. I'll order some online, but don't want to bring it here if it won't survive. Thanks!


    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 3:34PM
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It may be too hot a zone for Hakone. The books say up to zone 9, and they all say it likes a cool and moist environment.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 4:55PM
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helenlaura(Z4-5 IA)

I have some 10 hakone macra 'aurea' plants. Originally planted it in a public garden under gingkos, all shade but soil dries FAST, problem to keep it moist enuf. It was failing, so dug up the hakone and got some mugo pines for the public garden, they are doing great. Moved the hakone to a spot alongside a pond where they would get watered daily, and they also get about an hour's full sun. They are growing beautifully in their first year! I'm nuts for them. Have lancifolia alongside, good contrast, especially with the lavendar flower. The hakone are limey-yellow green, gorgeous! Yes, they are hardy.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 2:53PM
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xanadu(8/9 N.CA)

I have several clumps of H. 'Aureomarginata' and H. 'Aurea' in large pots. They have spread slowly but well in shade with consistent moisture. Last year I found some sad looking stubs in small pots neglected in a nursery and bought all of them for $2.50 each. They all survived and bounced back. A lucky find.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 12:05PM
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linden_ab(AB Canada z3)

I found a hakonechloa albostriata just a few weeks ago at a local nursery. Have been looking for any kind for quite awhile. have planted it in a shady area that gets good moisture, will protect if overwinter (scary in my zone3/4) and hope for the best!

    Bookmark   September 25, 2005 at 6:48PM
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rainshine(z6-7 MD)

Has anyone planted this in heavy shade? in planters? Can anyone recommend a good grass for dry shade? and is it good in pots or planters?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2005 at 10:03PM
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I just bought a sorry looking gallon pot of hakone 'aurea'--it was a late season sale and a very good buy. I'm thinking with loving care I can encourage it to become a beautiful clump. However, does anyone know if you cut it back in the fall? (Or in the spring?) Or do you not cut it back at all but just leave it be to take care of itself?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 3:38PM
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marilynhall(z5 NY)

I'm having a big problem with Hakone self-seeding. I don't know the variety -- not aurea. It was originally variegated but became solid green within a season. I'm yanking armloads of grass from my pachysandra. I can't find anyone who has had this experience (aurea is certainly well-behaved). One the other hand, the clump that I planted is lovely! Anyone else know what this thug is?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 10:10AM
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I've never heard or read of Hakone self-seeding. I have a few dozen of 4-5 cultivars, and even in a much warmer climate, have never had a volunteer. Offsets will sometimes appear as much as a foot away from the mother plant, but there is a physical connection, and the clump fills in the space in a season or two.

Are you sure the invader is Hakone?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 2:58PM
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I have been very surprised at how tough Hakone grass is once established, mine have handled the summer heat wave and drought quite well, even with some direct sun. I rarely watered them.

I have Beni Kaze and it gets quite a bit of sun, and it does fine, no browning at all. I have an All Gold which gets a couple of hours of hot afternoon sun, and it handles it well, just sort of bleaches more yellow. The All Gold that I have in shade looks more delicate and turns light green. Hakone does look more artistic and flowing in full shade, but stays good looking with the heat.

Hakone is slow to grow at first and I would water on a regular basis the first and second year.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 1:07AM
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