How to Grow Japanese Forest Grass – Hakonechloa  

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Hakonechloa–commonly called Japanese forest grass or Hakone grass–is a graceful, slender clump-forming perennial grass. It has arching stems that grow 18 inches 945cm) tall or more. A species called ‘Aureola’ is commonly grown; its leaves are bright yellow with narrow green stripes. There is a solid green species that is less often grown.

Hakonechloa has the effect of a tiny bamboo. It spreads slowly by underground runners. The loose, nodding leaves produce 3 to 5-flowered spikelets. Leaves can become red-flushed in autumn and that color can persist into winter.

Hakonechloa is a good choice for woodland or rock gardens or partially shady gardens or for close viewing in containers.

Hankonechloa is a genus of one species. It is native to wooded areas of Japan.

Hakonechloa macra aureola
Hakonechloa macra aureola

Get to know Hakonechloa 

  • Plant type: Deciduous perennial 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 5 to 9. 
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 5
  • Height and width: To 14 inches (35cm) tall and 16 inches (40cm) wide 
  • Growth rate: Slow 
  • Form and habit: Rhizomatous, clump-forming 
  • Foliage: Arching, bamboo-like foliage, 1.5 foot (.5m) long, slender with green stripes 
  • Flowers: Small panicles of flowers borne among leaves 
  • Bloom time: Mid- to late summer 
  • Uses: Woodland, rock garden, at the front of herbaceous border, courtyard garden 
  • Garden companions:  
  • Common name: Japanese forest grass, Hakone grass 
  • Botanical name: Hakonechloa 
  • Family name: Poaceae 
  • Origin: Japan 

Where to plant Hakonechloa 

  • Plant Hakonechloa full sun or partial shade. 
  • Plant Hakonechloa in fertile, humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil. 

When to plant Hakonechloa 

  • Set container-grown Hakonechloa in the garden in spring or autumn.

Planting and spacing Hakonechloa 

  • Plant Hakonechloa 16 inches (40cm) apart. 

How to water and feed Hakonechloa 

  • Give Hakonechloa regular water. 
  • Feed Hakonechloa with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring. 

How to care for Hakonechloa 

  • Cut Hakonechloa back in spring.  

Hakonechloa pests and diseases 

  • Pests and diseases are infrequent. 

Hakonechloa propagation 

  • Divide Hakonechloa in spring. 
  • Hakonechloa can be grown from seed.  

Hakonechloa varieties to grow 

  • Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, perennial grass, spreading, slowly to form mounds of arching, linear leaves, to 10 inches (25cm) long. Leaves are bright yellow with narrow green stripes, becoming red-flushed in autumn, the color often persisting into winter. From late summer to mid-autumn, bears needle-like, pale green spikelets in open panicles, to 7 inches (18cm) long. 14 inches (35cm) tall and 16 inches (40cm) wide. Zones 5 to 9. 

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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