Zebra Grass

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’

Zebra grass is a real eye-catcher in the flower bed. How to plant and care for the distinctive ornamental grass correctly.

Growth height (from)
from 150.00cm to 200.00cm
Growth width (from)
from 100.00cm to 150.00cm
Growth characteristics
  • upright
  • overhanging
  • horst-forming
Flower color
  • white
Flowering time (month)
  • August to October
Flower shape
  • Panicules
  • panicles
Leaf color
  • yellow green
  • multicolored
page format
  • grassy
  • narrow
  • sunny to semi-shade
Soil type
  • sandy to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • moderately dry to moderately humid
ph value
  • alkaline to neutral
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • Leaf ornaments
  • picturesque growth
Winter Hardness
  • hardy
  • Flowerbeds
  • Single position
  • Group planting
  • Planters
  • privacy screen
  • Rebates
Garden style
  • Flower garden
  • Formal garden
  • patio
  • Japanese Garden
  • natural garden
  • Prairie Garden
  • Pot garden

Zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’) is a variety of the ornamental grass, also known as Japanese silver grass, and like all species of Silvergrass a member of the large family Poaceae. Zebra grass is a historical variety that was first described in 1896. The ornamental grass was introduced from Japan. ‘Zebrinus’ is one of many varieties of Miscanthus sinensis, all of which differ in terms of texture, size, height, and leaf color.


The hardy variety ‘Zebrinus’ has an upright, relatively bushy, clump-forming growth habit. After two to three years, it reaches a height of up to 6.5 feet and a diameter of up to 5 feet. The very old variety tends to have an arching, loose to falling over growth habit, and is therefore an eye-catcher in the garden.

Zebra grass in the garden

Zebra grass reaches its full height after around two years, providing a good level of privacy in the garden


The leaves are entire, slender, and dark green. They have irregular yellowish horizontal bands that resemble zebra stripes and give the grass its name. The horizontal bands first appear during the vegetation period. Zebra grass delights with brownish golden foliage in fall.


Zebra grass does not begin to flower until late in the season, although the plant rarely produces flowers in this country. If it does flower, it develops silvery white, felt-like panicles.


Zebra grass prefers sunny and warm locations, sunny shrub borders are ideal. It also grows in partial shade, however the zebra stripes will be less pronounced.


Zebra grass prefers fresh, nutrient-rich, well-ventilated soils, though it also does well in dry and slightly moist conditions. However, the ornamental grass does not tolerate waterlogging at all. When planting in tubs, make sure that they are large enough and have a reasonable drainage layer.


Plant zebra grass in spring, ideally in a flower bed in April or May. As zebra grass grows very tall, you should leave a distance of 48 inches and generally allow for at least one square meter per plant. Water the well after planting.

Planting zebra grass

Plant zebra grass in the ground in late spring and press down well


Zebra grass is extremely low maintenance and, other than some compost when planting, does not need any other fertilizer. Water the ornamental grass regularly during longer dry periods. Don’t cut off the blades in fall as they are very decorative in the snow and frost, and give the garden some structure during the winter months, too. As a precaution, you can tie the blades together in fall so that they do not bend in strong winds. Wait until late spring before cutting the grass close to the ground using large pruning shears and gloves. The ornamental grass will grow back strongly by June/July, reaching its ultimate height.


Spring is also the best time to divide zebra grass. Cut off a piece of the rootstock using a sharp spade and plant this in a new location in the garden.

Where to plant

The Chinese silver grass ‘Zebrinus’ is a real eye-catcher and adds structure to shrub beds; due to its height it is best planted in the background. Zebra grass is very distinctive because of its tall growth, making it a popular specimen plant. Planted in rows, it makes a tall and decorative privacy screen in the garden. It goes well with herbaceous perennials like Japanese anemone and Helenium as well as yellow flowering plants which combine nicely with the zebra stripes. Zebra grass also blends in perfectly with plants by a pond. The distinctive leaves of the grass can be used as decorative cut foliage for flower arrangements or bouquets. A word of caution: Wear gloves when pruning as the leaves have very sharp edges.

Shrub bed with zebra grass

Zebra grass looks magnificent in sunny flower beds alongside perennials that bloom in warm colors


The ornamental grass is usually propagated by division in spring. It is best to do this with a sharp spade as zebra grass forms a very dense root system.

Diseases and Pests

Zebra grass is generally robust and resistant to pests and diseases. It is seldom affected by the Miscanthus mealybug. Soils that are too dry and long periods of sunlight occasionally lead to sunburnt leaves.

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