Ornamental grass Miscanthus self-sows into a Gardening Oops.

You may be surprised to learn that a miscanthus grass is on the Connecticut Invasive Plant List. The miscanthus in your yard may not be the specific one listed as invasive in Connecticut, but it still may be one that self-sows like the many miscanthus growing on my little piece of Earth.  Self-sowing miscanthus are the topic of my November 2012 Gardening Oops – GOOPs for short.

I usually post on the first of each month about a GOOPs/gardening faux pas/gardening mis-step I’ve made. Super storm Sandy, as it is now being called, had another schedule in mind, so this month’s post is a tad late.

I started planting ornamental grass varieties many years ago. Living in an area heavily foraged by deer, I thoroughly enjoy that ornamental grasses are not deer candy. In fact, I have never seen even the slightest deer nibble on any ornamental grass. I have, however, found one ornamental grass family, specifically miscanthus, very readily self sows.

The invasive miscanthus variety listed as invasive in Connecticut is Miscanthus sinensis ‘Andersson’. I don’t have this variety planted. However, I do have Miscanthus sinensis ‘Arabesque’ and ‘Gracillimus’ in multiple locations and, if I didn’t deadhead the flowering bracts of these, I’d have many more miscanthus growing.

I discovered the prolific self-sowing habits of these miscanthus varieties quite by accident … I found young shoots while weeding. At first I thought the shoots were weeds then, as a few here and there managed to elude one of my many weeding sessions I realized what was growing was not a weed, but a young miscanthus.

Now if you’ve tried to dig out a mature miscanthus, you know what a good hold their roots have on the soil. These babies are not easy to eradicate once they have a foothold. So a few years back I started deadheading the miscanthus in my yard. I’m still able to enjoy the airy, red hue of the seed bracts when they are fresh and look like this:


But when the bracts begin to whiten, and resemble the mature seed head of a dandelion puff, off go their heads.

This is why.


This unwanted volunteer grew from a seed dropped by its parent plant growing just a few feet away. It is definitely not in a desirable spot, but serves as a good example of why I deadhead miscanthus each autumn. Even with my vigilance it’s obvious one seed head slipped the jaws of my pruning shears and spread its progeny.

And, remember, none of the miscanthus varieties planted in my yard are the variety listed on the invasive plant list. Let this be a warning … not my first, but a continued one … that any type of miscanthus will self-sow and could become a problem child. This is why all my miscanthus now look like this:


I can still enjoy how the grasses sway in the breezes – Sandy’s gusts really had them swaying – but I no longer need to worry that their prolific blooms will become a similarly prolific “weed” issue.

Have you had this experience with miscanthus? Do you have a different GOOPs to share? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to stop back again on December 1 for another GOOPs installment. Barring any weather issues, the December GOOPs should go up as scheduled.

Many thanks to Laurrie who posts a GOOPs every month … even when I miss one. Read Laurrie’s November GOOPs.

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4 comments for “Ornamental grass Miscanthus self-sows into a Gardening Oops.

  1. November 3, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I had Gracillimus for a while but never liked it. Too big for where I had it, and it wasn’t as graceful as I had expected, just big and bushy in my opinion. So I took it all out. After they were gone, I would find seedling clumps everywhere!

    I’m glad your power is back up, and you survived ok. My Oops is on my blog, and it is the one I make most often: a plant that will grow too big in a spot that is too small : -)

    • November 3, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      Laurrie, You are the first person to also have miscanthus self sow. I was beginning to think it was an anomaly in my gardens. Thanks again for Keeping GOOPs alive even when I cannot.

  2. November 4, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Joene, your post on grasses resonates with me: I plead guilty to growing every grass I can find. I’ll post a full confession soon. All best.

    • November 4, 2012 at 11:02 am

      I grow many types of grasses as well, Lee. Not all reseed, but it is something to keep an eye on.

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