Little Miss Maiden GrassMiscanthus sinensis ‘Little Miss' (PP# 28,849)
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Miscanthus sinensis ‘Little Miss' (PP# 28,849)
Outdoor Growing zone
Little Miss Maiden Grass is a newer variety that is a color breakthrough. The leaves begin green and then turn first pink and purple, before turning bright carmine-red in fall. Much smaller than most other maiden grasses, it rises in a fountain just 2 feet tall, adding another foot when in bloom, and arches out about 3 feet across. It’s small size makes it perfect for smaller gardens or smaller spaces, or to mass-plant along paths and at the front of beds. Grow it among rocks and gravel, by water or among shrubs and perennial flowers. It looks beautiful everywhere, and it’s very easy to grow.
It is best to plant Little Miss Maiden Grass in full sun, to bring out the strongest leaf coloring. It grows well in all well-drained soils, including sandy soil and by the seaside – it’s salt resistant and drought resistant too, once established. It isn’t bothered by deer, rabbits, pests or diseases, and it takes just one quick job a year to keep it perfect. Cut it down to a few inches tall anytime between late fall and early spring. This ‘warm season’ grass will be show to sprout in spring.
Maiden grasses are among the most well-known and popular of all the ornamental grasses grown today. Their slender foliage gives a unique look, and many have silver or yellow variegation on their leaves. Unfortunately many are large plants, needing lots of room, and so they’re not always suitable for smaller gardens. That’s where Little Miss Maiden Grass comes into focus, because it remains small, while giving that same special look that makes these grasses so popular. Plus, and it’s a big plus, it features unique red foliage that is striking and fascinating, bringing great color, and adding red to your palette of ornamental grasses – a rare coloring among them. This combination of red leaves and small size makes this one grass that’s a real winner, and one that you will want to grow – and enjoy when you do.
Little Miss Maiden Grass is a perennial variety of grass that forms a dense clump – it isn’t in any way invasive and spreading, something that gave older ornamental grasses a bad reputation. It forms a tight clump of narrow arching leaves, rising up to around 2 feet tall when well-established, and arching outwards to be as much as 3 feet across. The leaves are about ¼ inch across, rising at first upright, and later arching over, sometimes until the tip touches the ground – a very attractive fountain effect is created. The young leaves are green, but as spring turns to summer they begin to take on purple-rose tones, gradually intensifying until by fall they are rich carmine-red. New leaves in the center tend to remain green, making a fascinating ‘two-tone’ effect. This striking coloring makes this one of the showiest and most colorful of the maiden grasses – and indeed of most ornamental grasses.
Between mid-summer and mid-fall, depending on how long and hot your summers are, this grass will come into bloom. Strong spikes rise up a foot or so above the foliage mound, carrying plumes of fluffy grass flowers along the upper 6 inches of the spike. When young these flowers are pinkish-burgundy, adding to the beauty of the clump. As fall continues the flowers and then the leaves turn more beige, but still look attractive all through winter – many gardeners leave cutting down until spring to enjoy this winter effect.
Little Miss Maiden Grass is a wonderful ornamental grass to use wherever you want a smaller grass plant. It’s many color changes make it always fascinating, so plant it where you see it often. Grow a single plant, or group plants, spacing them 2 feet apart, to fill larger spaces without adding height. It’s a great way to finish off the front of your beds along a pathway, to plant in a rock garden, among boulders and gravel, or by water. It is also invaluable for planters and pots, and can be left outdoors through winter in warmer zones.
Little Miss Maiden Grass grows well from zone 5 to zone 8, and in zone 9 where summers are not too hot and dry. It may not flower in zone 5, but it’s still attractive and very worth growing. In cooler zones, plants in pots should be lifted and placed directly in the ground for the winter – repot them in spring.
Although most maiden grasses will grow in a little shade, we recommend only full sun for Little Miss Maiden Grass, to ensure the leaves turn good pinks and reds. It grows in almost all soils, from sand to well-drained heavy soils, but wet ground, especially in winter, can affect winter survival. Established plants are very drought tolerant, and resistant to salt-spray as well.
Little Miss Maiden Grass is not eaten by deer or by rabbits, and it doesn’t have any pests or diseases – it’s very easy to grow. It is a ‘warm season’ grass, which means it doesn’t sprout early in spring – don’t make the mistake of thinking it is dead. Once the ground warms it will sprout and grow rapidly. If you need to move it, do this only in spring, when you see the first leaf tips pushing out. It needs just one annual job – cutting it down to 4 or 5 inches tall. Do this between late fall and early spring. Especially in areas with little snow in winter it often remains attractive, so don’t rush to cut it down while it still looks good.
Maiden grass, Miscanthus sinensis, is sometimes called Chinese or Japanese silver grass. It does grow wild in both those countries, as well as in Korea. Wild plants have green leaves and can grow to be 10 feet tall. There are many varieties that have been created over the years, mostly in Japan, but also in America and Europe. Germans have a long history of using perennials and grasses in their gardens, and the variety called ‘Little Miss’ was developed there. Klaus Menzel and Christel Lewandowski-Menzel have been keen gardeners since they were young, and their private garden in Wöllstein, Germany, is well known. Since they moved into the rundown property in 1982 they have turned it into their personal paradise. They grow many different maiden grasses, and collect seeds from them. In 2004 they saw a unique seedling that was small and with red leaves. After growing it for several years they realized its value to gardeners. They received a patent in 2014 and released it to different nurseries, naming it ‘Little Miss’.
It’s always great to see something new come along, especially when it brings something unique and valuable, as Little Miss Maiden Grass does. With everyone loving maiden grasses, but not everyone having room for the classic big varieties, we know that this grass will sell-out very quickly. Before that happens, order your plants – you don’t want to ‘miss out’ do you?