This is an update to the original Miscanthus Morning Light post from over 5 years ago. I’ve learned and experienced quite a bit more since then and honestly, the photos are a hell of a lot better.
I recently put together a list of my top ten ornamental grasses and one of those included is Miscanthus Morning Light.
I’ve had this grass in my garden since June of 2009 (yes, I referenced my plant spreadsheet to confirm the date). It has performed admirably since then, but admittedly, it has precipitously fallen off of my photography radar. Since 2012, I’ve taken very few photos of this grass and I’ve clearly gone out of my way a number of times to purposely avoid including it in photos.
And here is why.
Take a look at the photo at the top of this post. The grass looks nondescript and that is exactly how it appears during the majority of the year. It wasn’t always that way. When I initially planted it and for the next few years to come, it was upright and with a well defined shape.
But this is what it now typically looks like in late spring/early summer each year.
Not so appealing, eh?
As a means of contrast, take a look at the following photo.
The grasses on the left side are Miscanthus Morning Light. The darker green grasses in the background towards the right side of the photo are Panicum ‘Northwind’. To me, there is no contest in terms of which draws in the eye more.
Now having said that, it does improve dramatically as we move into late summer/early fall and I actually have quite a few photos of it during that time of year. In my garden, I have three of them placed behind Joe Pye Weed and the two contrast and play off of each other perfectly.
They really do shine when they aren’t required to be the focal point.
While I have you, some Miscanthus Morning Light facts:
- The leaves are very fine with a white margin – as a result it emits a silvery appearance
- Survives in zones 4-9
- It is a warm season grass – new growth emerges in Spring as the weather starts to warm up
- Prefers full sun
- Typically reaches 4′ – 5′ tall with another 1′ added on with the blooms
- Typically 3′ to 4′ wide
- Blooms in late Summer to early Winter – blooms are wine colored
- Tolerates all soils from clay to sandy
- Like all ornamental grasses it is deer resistant
- Looks good as a contrasting specimen or in groups as an informal hedge
There was one additional bullet on the original list, but I had to delete it because it isn’t what I’ve personally experienced:
- Miscanthus Morning Light holds up well in winter and looks fantastic.
IMHO, not so much. If it hasn’t already collapsed under the winter snow.
It remains rather “eh”, especially when compared to other grasses like the aforementioned Panicum ‘Northwind’ (both photos taken current day).
I can vouch for the great wine color on the Miscanthus Morning Light blooms which consistently appear in mid September in my garden.
They usually last until early to mid October before both the foliage and blooms turn a tan/buff color for the remainder of fall and all through winter.
Miscanthus Morning Light should be cut down to about 10″ in early Spring before the new growth emerges and I usually use a hedge trimmer to complete the job as efficiently as possible. Once the warmer temps hit, the new growth emerges and catches up to the cool season grasses rather quickly.
My goal this spring is to divide my three Miscanthus Morning Light grasses to see if that rejuvenates them and brings back that nice vase shape I experienced years ago. As usual, I’ll document the results along the way and would love to hear from all of you and your experience with this ornamental grass.