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Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light'

Phonetic Spelling
miss-KANTH-us sih-NEN-sis MOR-ning LYTE
Description

''Morning Light' is a Eulalia grass cultivar that has a fine texture and may be deciduous or evergreen depending on the climate. It has a spreading habit of dense clumps and erect stems with arching linear leaves. The foliage has very narrow green leaves with white bands along each margin. It grows upright from 3 to 6 feet tall and spreads 2.5 to 3 feet in a rounded clump of foliage. In mid to late September, it produces tiny reddish-copper blooms on terminal panicles above the foliage. Gradually as the seeds mature, the blooms become fluffy cream or silvery white on the 8 to 10-inch plumes. The flower plumes persist through the winter and add interest to the landscape. Foliage during the fall becomes a straw beige. 'Morning Light' is a somewhat smaller, more fine-textured version of the popular M. s. 'Gracillimus.' The narrow, green leaves with three white stripes produce a shimmering or silver effect.   

 This plant was introduced in 1976 by the United States National Arboretum by a Japanese plant specialist, Masato Yokoi. The species is native to China, and the species form has become invasive in the southeastern United States. The cultivar, 'Morning Light,' does not produce viable seeds; therefore, its potential for invasiveness is significantly less.

The genus name, Miscanthus, is derived from the Greek word, miskos, which means stem, and anthos, meaning flower. The specific epithet, sinensis, means from China.

This plant prefers full sun, is tolerant of heat and drought tolerant once established, and adapts to most well-drained soils. It needs to be protected from excessive wetness during the winter months. The 'Morning Light' rhizomes grow slowly, maintaining a clump shape, and the plant is low maintenance. To protect the crowns of the plant, foliage and stems should not be cut back until late winter or early spring.  Since it is a warm-season type of grass, transplanting is also best done in the spring. Division of the plant may be difficult after several years of growth.

'Morning Light' may be used as an accent, specimen, or in small groups. Consider this ornamental grass along flower borders, cottage gardens, or naturalized areas for its unique fall and winter interest. 

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Fall and Winter        Foliage:  Spring, Summer, and Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • warm-season clumping grass up to 3 to 6 feet tall and spreads 2.5 to 3 feet wide
  • foliage up to 36 inches long, linear to lanceolate, green with white bands along each margin
  • reddish-copper blooms on terminal panicles above the foliage in the fall
  • blooms become fluffy cream to silvery white on 8 to 10 plumes as the seeds mature

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: 'Morning Light' is usually insect and disease free. Potential insect pests may include, mealybugs, which can stunt the plant's growth, and diseases include blight and leaf rust.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

More information on Miscanthus sinensis.

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Tags:
#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#ornamental grass#accent plant#erosion control#cpp#mounding#deer resistant#warm-season grass#foundation planting#herbaceous perennials#screening#humidity tolerant#urban conditions tolerant#dry soils tolerant#black walnut toxicity tolerant#container plant#erect#borders#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#ornamental grass#accent plant#erosion control#cpp#mounding#deer resistant#warm-season grass#foundation planting#herbaceous perennials#screening#humidity tolerant#urban conditions tolerant#dry soils tolerant#black walnut toxicity tolerant#container plant#erect#borders#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Miscanthus
    Species:
    sinensis
    Family:
    Poaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Wildlife Value:
    Deer resistant. Birds like the seeds
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Colorful
    Textural
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    drought
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 6 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Ornamental Grasses and Sedges
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Mounding
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Caryopsis
    Fruit Description:
    This cultivar has seed heads, but it does not produce viable seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Good Dried
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Flower Description:
    In mid to late September, it produces tiny reddish-copper blooms on terminal panicles above the foliage. Gradually as the seeds mature, the blooms become silvery white on the 8 to 10-inch plumes. The flower plumes persist through the winter.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    White
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are alternate, simple, deciduous, and measure more than 36 inches long. They are linear to lanceolate, green leaves with white bands along each of the margins, which gives them a silvery appearance. They are flexible and blow easily in the wind. In the fall, the leaves become straw-colored to gold and persist through the winter months.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Pond
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Water Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion
    Heat
    Humidity
    Pollution
    Rabbits