Japanese forest grass

Japanese forest grass prefers fresh locations and is ideal as groundcover or for flower bed planting. Here’s the correct way to plant and care for these grass species.

Growth type
  • Grass
Growth height (from)
from 30 cm to 90 cm
Growth width (from)
from 30 cm to 50 cm
Growth characteristics
  • sweeping
  • overhanging
  • horst-forming
  • foothills
Flower color
  • green
  • brown
Flowering time (month)
  • July to August
Flower shape
  • panicles
Flower characteristics
  • unimpressive
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • strap-shaped
  • narrow lanceolate
Sheet properties
  • Autumn coloring
  • scattered light to semi-shade
Soil type
  • sandy to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • fresh to humid
ph value
  • neutral to weakly acidic
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant to sensitive to lime
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Leaf ornaments
  • picturesque growth
Winter Hardness
  • hardy
Climate zones according to USDA
  • 7
areas of life
  • G2
  • GR2
  • FR2
  • ST2
  • Flowerbeds
  • Borders
  • Single position
  • Group planting
  • Pond planting
  • Underplanting
  • Surface greening
  • Rebates
Garden style
  • Flower garden
  • Formal garden
  • Japanese Garden
  • natural garden
  • Forest Garden

Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra), also referred to as Hakone grass, is a dwarf reed from the genus Hakonechloa within the Poaceae family. As its name suggests, Japanese forest grass is native to the wet precipices in the mountains on Honshu, Japan’s main island. Among other places, the species grows in the region of the Hakone mountain, from which the genus name is derived.


Hakonechloa macra is a herby, long-lasting and relatively slow growing plant, with stems which form loosely overhanging waves 11.81 to 35.43 inches tall. The late shooting grass forms underground offshoots. Japanese forest grass grows slowly but continuously in diameter by spreading side shoots.


The narrow, lanceolate foliage of Japanese forest grass can grow up to 7.87 inches long and 0.39 to 0.79 inches wide and is reminiscent of bamboo with its strong green color. During the fall it takes on a yellow to bronze color.

Japanese forest grass in the fall
Japanese forest grass still very pretty to look at in the fall, when its slowly turns from yellow-bronze color to brown

In the summer, from around July to August, inconspicuous, green-brown panicles appear close to the end of the stalks. The spikelets are up to 0.79 inches long.


Japanese forest grass thrives in an off-sunny to semi-shady location, ideally in a cooler environment, similar to its native location. The grass even grows in full sunlight in more moist and cool areas. The warmer the location, the more shade Japanese forest grass needs.


Japanese forest grass thrives best in fresh to moist, nutrient-rich, humus soils.


Place the decorative grass with its root ball in a sufficiently large planting hole in the spring. It’s best to keep a planting distance of around 19.69 inches from other plants. However, if you want to use Japanese forest grass as groundcover, you should plant the grass tightly together, so the clump only spreads slowly. After planting, the decorative grass should be watered well.


Once it has grown in, Hakonechloa macra doesn’t require any special care. When the late frosts threaten, the grass benefits from a thin layer of spruce brush wood.


You should divide the Japanese forest grass in the spring. Late spring is also the best time for replanting and any necessary pruning, as the grass species grows flat roots and could otherwise threatened by frost damage in the fall.

Where to plant
Japanese forest grass on the edge of a flower bed
Japanese forest grass looks particularly impressive on the edge of flower beds, where it shows its picturesque growth

The relatively slow growing, overhanging decorative grass is perfect as groundcover and to plant around the edges of flower beds. The overhanging grass leaf crown of the also looks highly decorative in containers with a volume capacity of at least 1.32 to 1.64 gallons. Japanese forest grass is also suitable as underplanting and as an eyecatcher in shady areas. It looks particularly good in combination with hostas, ferns, and plants with red foliage.


There are different varieties in addition to the green-foliage species, including the conspicuous, striped variety ‘Aureola’, which is widespread In contrast, the green foliage species tolerates the sun better, is more winter hardy, and grows more quickly. ‘Albovariegata’ is a variety with green foliage and wide, white lengthwise stripes. The variety grows more rapidly and taller than ‘Aureola’. ‘All Gold’ has vibrant, yellow leaves and is suitable for sunny locations.

The variety ‘Aureola’ with its colorful foliage is more widespread than those with green foliage, however it grows less vivaciously

Hakonechloa macra is a vigorous self-sower, but not in dry soils. You can propagate larger clumps through division in the early spring.

Diseases and Pests

Japanese forest grass is not sensitive to diseases and pests.