Golden Japanese Forest grass (Hakonechloa maria) is a perennial ornamental grass that grows slowly, prefers shade, and isn’t too intrusive.

This is one of the few ornamental grasses that can thrive in the shade. It looks almost like a flowing green waterfall.

These grasses were born from the rocky and damp cliffs of the mountain in southeast Honshu.

These are also known as Hakone Grass and Japanese Forest Grass.

Hakonechloa macra is part of the Poaceae Family.

It is the only monotypic species and is native to Eastern Asia.

Scientific Name
Hakonechloa macra.
Common Names
Golden Japanese forest grass, Hakone grass
Hardy in Zones 5-9.
Indoor or Outdoor Plant?
Sun Exposure
Part shade to full sun
To keep the soil moist, water should be applied weekly or more often
12-18 inches high, 18-24 inches wide
Soil Type
Rich, moisture-retentive soil
Soil pH
The leaves often conceal small green flowers.
Growing Difficulty
Requires little maintenance


Hakonechloa Macra is a perennial which forms a cascading mound and curves downward.

A slight breeze can make its long, light leaves ripple.

These mounds are dense with many long, slender leaves.

These foliages that look like a waterfall can be coloured solid green, solid yellow, solid yellow/gold, green and white or green and yellow.

The grass can be anywhere from 12 inches up to 28 inches high and 18 inches to 24 inch wide.

The delicate green flowers are found in the middle to late summer, but they might be disguised by the green foliage.

The fall is characterized by copper and orange hues of leaves, particularly in cooler climates.

Some subspecies of are:

Hakonechloa macra “All Gold” is a solid leaf which can range in color from yellowish to dark lime green depending on the sun exposure.

The more they are exposed to direct sunlight, the yellower and more green the plants become.

The leaves can dry out and become burnt if they are exposed to too much sun.

Hakonechloa Macra Beni Kaze (literally “red wind”) has green leaves all summer, but turns a beautiful bright reddish-purple when it gets cooler.

These plants can reach approximately 18 to 30 inches in height.

Hakonechloa Macra Nicholas was created by Oliver Bennato Chez in France to be a dwarf of the Hakonechloa Macra Ben Kazie species.

They average 6 inches tall and 9 inches in height.

Hakonechloa Macra Aureola has multicolored leaves, stripped of gold, and Granny Smith-apple green.

This is the most popular cultivator of variegates.

The height ranges between 10 inches and 14 inches.

This subspecies was awarded the AGM (Award of Garden Merit), by the English Royal Horticulture Society.

Hakonechloa mara “Sunny Delight” displays the reverse color pattern to subspecies H. macra Aureola.

The main leaf is green and has a narrow yellow centre stripe. Its average height is between 12 inches and 14 inches.

It is well-known for being vigorous.


Hakonechloa can be used as ground cover, under trees (like Japanese Stewartia), and as an accent plant in a garden.

They are easy to grow, and require very little maintenance.

H. macra is more drought-tolerant than Hakonechloa Aureola and also more resistant to cold. Both species can be cultivated once established.

Japanese grass is a shade-loving perennial that adds beauty and flow to epimediums and other ground covers.

The spring flowers of Epimediums come in a variety of colors, including yellow, beige and pink, lavender, purple and red.

Hakonechloa can also be paired with ferns and heucheras.

Heuchera’s green leaves include some purple veins as well as interesting silver and white spots.

They take on bronze or purple tones in winter.

Some sources suggest Hellebores may be companion plants for Hakonechloa grasses. However, all Hellborreos parts are poisonous.

Japanese Forest grass clumps spread through the sending of rhizomes. They are creepers like all grasses but are slow-growing so are not considered invasive as many grass species.

Hakonecholas are plants that are sturdy, hardy, and last a long time.

Growing Guide

Japanese Forest grass grows well in areas with a little cooler climate.

You can choose a spot that is shaded or under a tree, but not directly in the sun.

It is important that the soil drains well.

The leaves look their best when they are in partial shade.

The color will change to lime green if it is grown in full sun.

The foliage will turn white in cooler climates if it is exposed to full sun.

The leaves will become scorched if the temperature is too high.

The leaves turn from orange to reddish-orange in the fall and then become a light brown when it goes dormant for winter.

Seedlings or Seedlings?

Because seeds can be difficult to find, and the seeds can be hard to see, it is better to plant seeds from already-grown seedlings available at the nursery.

You should choose healthy seedlings that are free from disease or grey spots.

When should you plant?

They need time to settle in their environment.

They go dormant in winter. Either plant them in the spring or autumn.

Soil preparation

Prepare the ground by breaking up any soil clumps and rocks.

Organic matter can be added as long as it’s not contaminated with disease or high in nitrogen.

You can also plant plants in containers.

How far apart do I need to plant my seedlings?

Place seedlings 18-24 inches apart from the center.

As ornamental grass does not like to be buried, holes should not be too deep.

The root ball should be about 1/2 inch below the surface, but not too low that they float away when they are watered.

Give them a good initial soak. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

To help retain moisture, organic mulch can be placed around plants’ bases.

It doesn’t usually require fertilizer. However, you should wait until the first spring burst to fertilize the soil.


The plants should be kept moist, but not soggy.

Spraying is a common cause of fungus disease. However, it is very rare.


The plant can burn in full sunlight and lose its color intensity in shade. However, it can be grown in full sunshine in colder climates like the upper Midwest according to the Wisconsin Horticulture Extension Service of the University of Wisc. .


This plant thrives in moist, humus-rich soil under cool shade.


As an attractive garden decoration, Japanese Forest grass can also be planted in a container.

A focal point can be created by the leaves falling down a ceramic vessel.

To encourage drainage, make sure the bottom of the pot is drilled. Water often to keep soil moist.

If potted plants are established, they can be broken up and repotted in other containers.

They might not see initial growth, as they need to rebuild their root system.

Propagation and Pruning

In late winter and early spring, you should trim dead leaves. Cut back the old leaves to 1/3 before new growth begins in spring.

Pruning cold-season grasses too aggressively or harshly can cause irreparable harm. Mulch your lawn each winter with well-rotted manure, compost, or other organic matter.

Clumps can be divided and planted in the Spring if necessary.

Rhizomes, which are slow-growing, spread the grass.

After the grass clumps are established, when new leaves emerge in spring, divide them and propagate new plants every 2-3 year or as required.

They will spend several weeks awaiting transplantation before they emerge in their waterfall-like leaves.

Common Problems, Pests, Diseases and Other Conditions

Although there are not many reports of diseases in Hakonechloa, one problem is sometimes present: grey spots on leaves and blight from the fungus Magnaporthe, Pyricularia.

Ohio studies have shown that this fungus is responsible for grey spots on perennial Ryegrass and Fescue.

It is very common in the Midwest, particularly on athletic fields and golf courses, during hot, humid weather that has frequent rain.

Winter is when the fungus goes dormant, as does mycelium from infected plant material.

High-nitrogen fertilizers are less likely to cause damage to plants that are closely spaced.

Start with healthy plants, make sure they are well-spaced, mulched and not stressed by drought.

Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers, and water only from the bottom.

Note: Japanese Forest Grass has mixed reviews for rabbits and is deer-resistant.


What can you do with it in your garden?

Japanese forest grass is great as a border for a path, under a Japanese Stwertia Tree, or as an accent in a container.

How can I plant Japanese Forest plants from seeds?

It is a perennial that can be easily grown.

It is difficult to find seeds, so it is best that you buy them and then divide them after they have established.

Plant nurseries are more likely to have H. macra Aureola and H. macra Aureola.

It is necessary to look for H. macra Ben Kaze or Nicholas varieties.

What does Hakonechloa stand for?

Hakone is the area in Japan where the grass originated.

“Chloa” is a Greek word that means grass. It also has the literal meaning of “Plants From Japan”.Are Hakonechloa Macra plants toxic?

Although Hakonechloa marcra are not a threat to pets, there have been instances of pets experiencing allergic reactions to the plant.

If you have pets, it is important to do thorough research before you introduce hakonechloa marcra in your garden.

Note: The warning regarding dogs and Hakonechloa plants cannot be verified. Hakonechloa has not been added to the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants for animal. However, these lists are constantly changing.