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Chinese reed (bot. Miscanthus sinensis) is a plant species from East Asia, of which there are many different varieties. They vary not only in size, but also in color and shape.

Miscanthus sinensis gracillimus is a popular Chinese reed variety

What should I consider when choosing a variety?

When it comes to care, the different varieties hardly differ at all. Almost all prefer a sunny location, but also tolerate partial shade. The Chinese reed also feels very comfortable at the edge of the pond. The soil should be slightly moist or at least fresh. Despite all the differences, all varieties are considered hardy.

The main criterion when choosing a variety should therefore be the space available in your garden. If you would like to plant giant Chinese reeds, then calculate a few square meters for it. It grows up to 2.5 meters wide and needs a distance of at least one meter to the neighboring plant, but preferably one and a half meters. For dwarf varieties, on the other hand, a planting distance of approx. 80 centimeters is sufficient.

How big does Chinese reed get?

The maximum size of your Chinese reed also depends on the selected variety, as does the speed of growth. The giant Chinese reed can grow up to four meters high, small varieties have a maximum height of about one to one and a half meters, the medium-sized ones are about two meters tall.

Small varieties of Chinese reed:

  • Micsanthus oligostachyus "Nanus Variegatus": graceful growth, forms runners, short, fine leaves, flowers in July and August, maximum height between 40 and 60 cm
  • Miscanthus sinensis 'Morning Light': clumpy habit without runners (rhizomes), slow-growing, variegated white leaves, no flowers, around 50 to 100 cm tall
  • Dwarf Chinese reed "Adagio": clump-like, compact growth, narrow, green-white striped leaves, up to approx. 1 m high

Medium-sized varieties of Chinese reed:

  • Miscanthus sinensis gracillimus, Chinese reed “Eulalia: clump-like growth, narrow green leaves, up to 1.5 m tall, flowers only rarely, attractive autumn colours
  • Miscanthus sinensis "Kleine Fountain": compact habit, green leaves, numerous silvery-pink flowers, approx. 1.5 m high, no rhizomes, flowering period from July
  • Miscanthus sinensis "Kleine Silberspinne": relatively upright habit, very filigree, greenish-blue leaves, brownish in autumn, up to approx. 1.5 m tall
  • Miscanthus sinensis "Red Chief": compact, hemispherical habit, red fronds of flowers, flowering period from August to October, bright orange-red autumn colors, up to about 1.5 m tall

Large varieties of Chinese reed:

  • Miscanthus x giganteus (giant Chinese reed) "Aksel Olsen": upright habit, overhanging, white-striped leaves, up to 4 m high, rarely flowers
  • Miscanthus japonicum giganteus: clumpy growth without rhizomes, very fast-growing, up to a maximum height of 5 m (usually 3 to 4 m), green leaves, no flowers


The right Chinese reed can also be found for a small garden, you can even cultivate it in a bucket.

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