My Fair Maiden™ GrassMiscanthus sinensis 'NCMS1' (PP# 26,387)
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Miscanthus sinensis 'NCMS1' (PP# 26,387)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The My Fair Maiden™ Grass is a striking ornamental grass forming a dense clump of long silvery-green leaves rising 6 feet tall. In late summer and fall it blooms, with spikes of feathery pink flowers shooting over 8 feet in the air. This dramatic plant is perfect as a lawn specimen or at the back of flower beds. Plant it among boulders and gravel, or beside water. Although large it doesn’t spread at the roots, so it won’t take over. This variety has been specially bred to produce no viable seeds, so it doesn’t pose a threat to the surrounding countryside, where maiden grass sometimes spreads.
Full sun or just a little partial shade is best for the My Fair Maiden™ Grass. It grows happily in any well-drained soil, including poorer soils and it is drought resistant once established. It also resists salt-spray in coastal areas. It has no pests or diseases and deer ignore it. Cut back to a few inches in late fall or spring and that’s all the maintenance needed.
In recent years everyone has become much more conscious of the potential for our garden plants to invade natural areas and become ecological problems. There is concern about maiden grass invading roadsides and natural areas throughout the mid-Atlantic states and New England. Worse, when dry this grass is very flammable, contributing to the spread of fires. Yet this plant is one of our most beautiful ornamental grasses for gardens, and it would be a great loss if we gave it up. The solution? Grow varieties that produce virtually no seeds and so can’t spread. Specially bred to be sterile, the My Fair Maiden™ Grass does indeed remain a maiden, producing almost no viable seed, so the risk of spread is minimal. Bred at North Carolina State University, they didn’t sacrifice beauty to reach this goal – all the grace and elegance of maiden grass was captured, but the invasive potential removed. Now you can grow these lovely grasses without concern, and enjoy the wonderful look they bring to your garden.
The My Fair Maiden™ Grass is a selected form of maiden grass that produces a dense clump of slender leaves, rising up and arching over to a height of 6 feet. This is not a grass that spreads outwards aggressively – it forms a tight clump that slowly enlarges but never spreads into surrounding areas. The long leaves are barely 1 inch wide, creating a graceful and elegant look, and they are a beautiful silvery-green color, turning to pale tan in winter but remaining upright. After a few years of growth the clump of many arching leaves takes up 4 to 5 feet of width. The foliage catches the light in a wonderful way, making the clump shimmer and glow beautifully.
Flowering takes place late in the season – typically late August to early September, and several thick stems rise out of the foliage. These open to reveal a cluster of long thin stems of grass flowers, which arch and sway, like an upright whisk. They are a soft pink to reddish beige color, turning to a straw color as they mature. The flower stems add further height, rising over 8 feet tall. This plant has been bred to be a ‘triploid’ – it has sets of 3 chromosomes, not pairs. This means that during seed formation even division is not possible (2 doesn’t go into 3 evenly), and the resulting seeds are malformed and sterile. This is why this variety cannot produce seed to spread to natural areas.
The My Fair Maiden™ Grass is a stunning specimen grass with a bold and dramatic look. It looks fabulous as a clump on a lawn, or filling the back of a bed of flowers or smaller shrubs. Plant it with plenty of space in a gravel-mulched bed and you instantly have a wonderful modern minimalist garden look. Grow a row to hide a fence or cover a blank wall. Plant it singly or in clumps of 3 or 5, spacing plants 3 to 4 feet apart – don’t crowd them together. Grow it by water where it looks terrific. Use it to hide pump equipment around your pool and beautify the area at the same time. Plant a pair on either side of an entrance or gate, or scattered coming down a slope, surrounded by smaller mounding plants. The possibilities are endless for this beautiful ornamental grass.
The My Fair Maiden™ Grass is hardy from zone 5 all the way into zone 9, growing well in all these different climates. In zone 5 flowering will be late, and in cool summer they may not fully open, but the foliage is so beautiful it hardly matters.
Grow your My Fair Maiden™ Grass in full sun, or in light partial shade. Too much shade will weaken the clumps and prevent flowering. This tough, reliable plant grows well in all kinds of soils, including poor ones, but not in wet ground. Established clumps have good drought resistance, but a deep soak in summer is always appreciated. It also resists salt-spray, so it’s a great choice for coastal gardens.
Pests, diseases and deer are almost never problems with this tough grass. The only care needed is an annual cutting down, which can be in late fall or spring, before new growth begins. In warm areas, the clumps remain attractive through much of the winter – in cold areas snow often flattens them. This is a ‘warm season’ grass, so it is slow to sprout in spring – don’t worry, it isn’t dead. It waits until the weather warms up before sending out new leaves, so use the area around it for spring bulbs perhaps, to add early color in your garden.
Maiden grass, Miscanthus sinensis, is often called Chinese or Japanese silver grass, and it grows naturally in those countries, and in Korea as well. In nature it often forms extensive grasslands, and it is harvested to feed farm animals. There are several varieties of this plant grown in gardens, but most produce at least some seeds, and some produce many. Beginning in 2007 the horticulturists Thomas Ranney and Darren Touchell used laboratory techniques to create a tetraploid plant (double pairs of chromosomes) by artificially crossing the varieties `Strictus` and `Variegatus` together. They crossed the resulting plants with a diploid variety (single pairs of chromosomes) called ‘Zebrinus’. In the lab they were able to grow a plant that was triploid (set of three chromosomes). After 6 years of testing at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station, Mills River, part of the State University of North Carolina, they knew this plant was sterile and couldn’t produce seeds. They named it ‘NCMS1’ and patented it for the benefit of the University in 2016. It is released for gardens with the trademarked name My Fair Maiden™.
If you have any concerns about protecting surrounding natural areas, then you can grow the My Fair Maiden™ Grass without concern. However you look at it, this is a beautiful and vigorous grass, and a valuable addition to your garden. Ornamental grasses are ‘hot’ in garden design, and the demand is always high for non-invasive varieties. Order your plants now, while we still have them in stock.