Tag Archives: miscanthus morning light

Miscanthus Morning Light

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.

morning lt 12


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.

morning lt 13






But this is what it now typically looks like in late spring/early summer each year.

morning lt 11






Not so appealing, eh?

As a means of contrast, take a look at the following photo.

morning lt 7





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.

morning lt 10


joe pye and miscanthus


clethra joe pye fall








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.

morning lt 5


It remains rather “eh”, especially when compared to other grasses like the aforementioned Panicum ‘Northwind’ (both photos taken current day).

winter morning light

Miscanthus Morning Light







winter northwind

Panicum Northwind

I can vouch for the great wine color on the Miscanthus Morning Light blooms which consistently appear in mid September in my garden.

miscanthus morning light



morning light and joe pye





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.


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Top ten ornamental grasses

My garden is dominated by ornamental grasses. It started out of necessity as they could handle the poor draining clay soil, all day sun, harsh wintry conditions and were completely ignored by the deer. But is has since evolved into me simply loving the hell out of them as witnessed by my numerous posts on the topic. They are the backbone of my garden.

A friend recently asked me “Which grasses should I plant this spring?” and I told him I’ll do you one better, I’ll dedicate an entire post to my personal favorites. A handy little guide for those who are just entering the OG world or are looking to add a few to their existing collection. My recommendations are solely based on grasses that have resided in my own garden as I’ve had the time to watch them mature and adapt over the years. There are definitely others I’ve seen in other gardens that I would recommend as well, but until I have a personal experience with them, I cannot comment.

I’ve dedicated posts to many of these individual grasses, so simply click on the name of the grass to read in greater detail. I’ve also included a few quick tidbits below about each grass.

Here are my top ten ornamental grasses (in no particular order):


Panicum ‘Northwind’Top ten ornamental grasses

  • Grass remains completely upright all year long.
  • Reached full size (5′-6′) within three years after planting a tiny plug.
  • Underrated yellow fall color.





Panicum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’Top ten ornamental grasses

  • First grass I ever planted.
  • My favorite fall “red”of all the Panicums
  • I’ve divided this grass numerous times with ease.



Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’Top ten ornamental grasses

  • The biggest head turner in Fall with its foliage color of red/green/orange.
  • The silver blooms are a nice contrast.
  • Looks fantastic with fall perennials (Dwarf sneezeweed in the photo)


Sorghastrum ‘Sioux Blue’indian panicum sage

  • This towering native grass (middle of pic) reaches 7 feet when in bloom.
  • Took 2-3 years to establish, but now upright and stays that way through winter.
  • Individual blooms are interesting when viewed up close.


Pennisetum ‘Desert Plains’desert pennisetum

  • Only two years in with this one and it has already established itself well.
  • Great late summer/fall foliage color.
  • Tons of blooms starting in summer and they still look good into the winter.


Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’grass

  • Reliable performer year after year. 9 years in for me.
  • Doesn’t hold up as well in winter as the other grasses.
  • A bit weedy like most Miscanthus.


Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’og5

  • Yes, you can find them everywhere, but there is a reason for that. Care free and upright and buff blooms all summer and into fall.
  • I like to squeeze one in between perennials as a great contrast in texture and color.
  • I divide all the time with ease and nothing but success.


Schizachyrium (Little Bluestem) ‘Blue Heaven’k12

  • Great blue color in spring and then shades of pink and red in late summer.
  • Has handled early morning shade without issue.
  • Two years in with this one and I’m in love with it. Holds up all season including in winter.




Molinia ‘Skyracer’molinia

  • A slow to establish cool season grass but worth the wait. This one is all about the blooms as they get 4′ to 5′ tall and look killer at the back of a border.
  • Does not hold up in winter as the blooms break off.
  • Just planted ‘Cordoba’ for the first time which is allegedly even better than ‘Skyracer’.


Andropogon ‘Red October’andro

  • Another newcomer for me as we’re three years in. About 3′ to 4′ in height but should reach 6′ to 7′.
  • The foliage color is off the charts already. Red hues even in spring and then dark red in fall.
  • Seems slower to establish but it will be worth the wait. Only a few blooms to date.


And a few bonus “non-recommendations”:

Calamagrostis ‘El Dorado’ 030

  • The picture to the right is this cool season grass at its peak. Short lived though as it becomes nondescript the rest of the year.
  • Nowhere near as solid as ‘Karl Foerster’





Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’107

  • Maybe TBD is a better description. Nothing bad, just not as exciting as other switch grasses to date.
  • I haven’t seen much of a blue hue so far, just a drab green.



Northern Sea Oatssea oats fall

  • Just read this and you’ll understand why I gave up on it.



Through the Seasons

Each season has its own unique beauty in the garden and dammit, that is why I love this gardening thing so much. It is never dull and in constant motion in a wonderfully subtle way.

With that theme in mind, there are some photo sets below depicting the same section of garden at different times this year. The first photo in each set is from current day. The subsequent photos then move backwards in time throughout the 2014 gardening season.


Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed) in front of Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’:


joe pye


joe pye and miscanthus



Sedum ‘Autumn Fire’, Viburnum carlesii ‘Aurora’, Miscanthus purpurascens (Flame Grass) and Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’:





vib whites


Panicum ‘Rots’, Viburnum bracteatum ‘Emerald Lustre’, Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’:


grasses fall color




ornamental grass snow


Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’, Purple coneflower, Perovskia (Russian Sage):




Similar plants as listed above but from a different angle:




Barberry, Iris versicolor, Clethra ‘Hummingbird’, Monarda (Bee Balm), etc.:






A little bit of everything:





Looking through Physocarpus (Ninebark) ‘Diablo’ to the aforementioned Joe Pye Weed/Miscanthus combo:




Yes, more ornamental grass love

If you do not like ornamental grasses, it is OK to leave now. 
Go on … get outta here.
Are they gone? …. good riddance.
Let’s proceed, shall we?
It’s sort of like Christmas Eve out in the garden right now with the OG blooms about ready to show themselves: 
Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’ 
Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’ 
Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’
Want to know how I know that my lust for ornamental grasses is off the charts? I can capture three blooming grasses in one photo:
Misacanthus ‘Gracillimus’, Calamagrostis ‘Eldorado’ and Miscanthuis ‘Purpurascens’ 

This is the second year for my Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’ and so far, color me impressed:

The seed heads on my two different Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats) have matured nicely:

Northern Sea Oats

Northern Sea Oats ‘River Mist’

You can count on an overwhelming amount of coverage on all things ornamental grasses over the next few weeks so brace yourself.


Ornamental grasses take the spotlight

It is that time of year.

The time when the ornamental grasses take a giant leap forward, shake their ample booty and become THE focus in the garden.

Well, they do in my garden at least.

Here is just a sampling of these emerging superstars:

Panicum (Switch Grass) ‘Northwind’ when the blooms first appeared:


And now after said blooms transformed into a pinkish hue (love the blue/green blades as well):

Next, we have Panicum (Switch Grass) ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ (yes, I have memorized that spelling):

Miscanthus ‘Variegatus’ behind the same “Rots”:

Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ not yet showing signs of bloom but still stunning in its own way:

Misanthus purpurascens (Flame Grass) with blooms just popping out in front of the giant Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’:

Every night, I stare at these Calamagrostis (Feather Reed Grass) ‘Karl Foerster’ blooms from my deck as they are backlit by the sun. Good times:

And finally, Chasmanthium latifolium (Northern Sea Oats) are at their peak, as we speak:

More grass love to come in a future post as they continue to transform with the arrival of autumn.


Please don’t go

Yes, the end of the gardening season is near – OK fine, I know it can extend through the winter, blah blah blah – and I’m doing my best to enjoy it while it is still here:
The blooms of Anemone ‘September Charm’ are holding on for dear life:

The sedum blooms have transformed into their coveted brick red color:

Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ is at it’s peak: 

The Acorus gramineus ‘Oborozuki’ (also known as sweet flag but wanted to get my Latin on) are at their most vivid color right now and have truly enjoyed the sick amount of rain we’ve had the past two months:

Still loving the color of Thuja (Arborvitae) ‘Rheingold’:

And loving the sight of berries left behind as the trees shed their leaves:

Enjoy your weekend