Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola'

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Photo Courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.
 Common Name: Grass-Ornamental
Common Name (Alternative): Golden Variegated Hakone Grass, Japanese Forest Grass

An intriguing grass for the shade which is perfect for the formal Japanese garden. Variegated but nearly all yellow, the leaf blades have narrow green stripes, mostly near the margins. Perhaps its most fascinating attribute is the cascading habit in which most of the leaves arch in the same direction, appearing much like a golden waterfall. Plant this grass where it will cascade down slopes, drape over rocks, crawl over the edges of walls, at the front of the garden, or even in containers.

Though this grass does spread by rhizomes, it is a slow grower and will not rapidly overtake its neighbors. When grown in part shade, the yellow tones in the leaves will be most pronounced. In deep shade, the variegation will be lime green. In the cooler days of autumn, the golden foliage becomes infused with shades of pink and red. People in milder climates will be able to enjoy the buff color of this grass all winter. In colder climates, it will die all the way back to the ground.

Hakonechloa is grown mainly for its beautiful foliage, though it does produce seed heads. Tiny, inconspicuous flower spiklets appear in airy clusters from late summer thru early fall.

Origin: Not Native to North America


  1-2 Feet
  2-3 Feet
Flower Color:
  Tan shades
Foliage Color:
Hardiness Zone:
Find Your Zone
Sun or Shade?:
  Part shade (4-6 hrs. direct sun)
  Full shade (< 4 hrs. direct sun)
Wet or dry?:
  Average water needs
  Consistent water needs
Need critter resistant plants?:
  Deer resistant
How fast should it grow?:
When should it bloom?:
  Late summer
  Early fall
  Grown for its attractive foliage
How's your soil?:
  Average Soil
  Fertile Soil
Sweet or Sour Soil?:
  Acidic Soil (pH < 7.0)
  Neutral Soil (pH = 7.0)
What's your garden style?:


Border plants
Mass Planting
Specimen or focal point


  Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit 1993
  Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year 2009

Homeowner Growing & Maintenance Tips:

Hakonechloa is most at home in shaded, woodland environments where the soil is rich and loamy. This grass will not grow in poorly drained soil, heavy clay, or very dry soils. Part to full shade is best; full hot sun tends to scorch the leaves.

Since it is such a slow grower, it will not be necessary to divide this grass for many years. However, division is easily accomplished and may be done in spring or fall. In zones 5-6, mulch it with fall leaves to a depth of about 2 feet and cover the pile with branches to keep the mulch in place. In southern zones, this mulch is not necessary. In early spring, remove the leaves and cut back last year's foliage to allow room for the new growth.


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Fun Facts:

The name Hakonechloa dissected:

"Hakone" is the area near Mt. Fuji in Japan where this grass is found growing naturally.

"chloa" means "grass". 

Thus, Hakonechloa means "grass from Japan".

While every effort has been made to describe this plant accurately, please keep in mind that the height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates throughout the country. The description of this plant was written based on our experience growing it in Michigan (USDA hardiness zone 5) and on numerous outside resources.