Miscanthus Morning Light in partial shade?

shelli563(zone 6 MA)October 8, 2010

I was thinking of planting some Miscanthus Morning Light to accompany some Winterberry shrubs that I have. I'm trying to boost the winter interest in this area of the garden. The only problem is that this area only gets dappled sun/ shade. I'm thinning out the tree canopy nearby to let brighter conditions come thru. Not sure it makes much difference but when the leaves drop, this area gets full sun.

Am I wasting my time considering Morning Light?

Thanks for the advice,


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I'm facing the same type of problem. I read that the Miscanthus grasses get lanky and fall over in shade. Sounds kind of ugly and messy looking. I finally ended up ordering 6 Korean Feather Grass plants, which get 4' tall and did a mass planting. It has a pretty pink bloom starting in July, needs some shade in hot summer areas like where I live and will bloom well in the shade. Its supposed to stay upright. I figure it will do much better than a sun lover in the long run. The Variegated Feather Grass gets about a foot taller. All the other shade tolerant types I found were small grasses. I haven't seen these in garden center here but Santa Rosa Gardens has them on sale right now for $2.99. I received some really nice plants from them.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 3:54AM
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Miscanthus is generally considered to be tolerant of full sun or part shade. It should be remembered that "part shade" also means part full sun, and Miscanthus needs at least a couple to a few hours a day of full sun to do a good job for you.

Calamagrostis (Feather Reed)is pretty much the same. It does best in full sun, but can tolerate some shade as well.

"Dappled sun" in zone 5 is not as good for anything as dappled sun in zone 7 or higher. Two hours of my sun is not the same as 2 hours of your sun.

So far, the tallest and most reliable shade grass I've found is Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium. There's a new variegated version out, called 'River Mist' but I haven't tried it yet.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 11:54AM
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What about this logic: I figure since my area is in full sun in spring and fall and only falls in what is probably too much dappled shade during the hottest time mid summer, end of June through August when its blistering hot here in Oklahoma, and since this is a cool season grass that goes dormant in the heat of summer it can maybe take the summer shade without flopping? I am sort of counting on this to work. I noticed the Karly Rose Pennisetums I got from Santa Rosa are doing noticeably better with just morning sun. The three I planted in part shade have more blooms and are growing bigger than the full sun ones and I am watering them all everyday until they settle in and we get some rain here finally. Maybe its too soon to tell and they are just settling in faster in less torrid conditions? I was thinking about moving the other three into part sun and using that spot for muhlys but it made me wonder how much shade these pennisetums will take? Santa Rosa lists these as good choices for part shade. I live next door to people on both sides (East and West) who have too many tall trees, so I fight the endless battle of leaning plants in my backyard. It exasperating! So far, it looks like grasses don't tend to lean like most other sun loving plants.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 5:53PM
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You're doing the right thing; experimenting with the grasses. They are portable, so if they don't work out in one set of conditions, they can be moved to another.

Pennisetums are generalized as "full sun to part shade." The thing is, "part shade" also means "part sun." I have a few dozen of 4-5 different varieties, and they all do better with 4+ hours of full sun.

Other conditions also have an effect. The nature of the soil, wind and competition from other plants will all influence the health of a grass.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 7:40AM
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Thank you for the helpful information, its obvious you know a lot about grasses. I will probably have some questions down the line as I am trying to establish mass plantings of various native grasses among native plants and cactus. We took out the entire lawn and brought in tons of sand that we mixed with the soil and covered it all in river rock gravel.

I'm collecting seeds and growing plugs. One question I have is: I finally got the Muhlenbergia rigens to germinate and was wondering if I should let them winter over outdoors or do I need to protect them indoors during the worst part of winter in a sunny window? I'm in zone 7. Same question on Alkali Sacaton and Sporobolus Wrightii. What do you advise?

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 10:07PM
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CG..it sounds like you have the plugs in tiny containers, so you should keep in mind they may lose two zones of winter hardiness. In that case, M. rigens should probably come inside. The two Sporobolus could probably make it outdoors, but I would get them into the ground or bring the containers in.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 6:09AM
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Yea, they are in containers, the recycled Santa Rosa ones. Sounds like sound advice.

I put the S. Alkali in the ground today and will bring the rest indoors later so the roots don't freeze. I am waiting until that S. wrightii gets at least gallon sized because I am removing a long privit hedge and replacing it with grass. I don't think I could bear to look at blank ground all winter but I am hoping to get a head start on progress and save some money on purchased plants.

Thank you, its nice to have a second opinion.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 6:41PM
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