Planting zebra grass - Instructions & tips for location & substrate

Planting zebra grass - Instructions & tips for location & substrate

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The zebra grass with its striped straws is a special eye-catcher. Under optimal conditions, this reed grows into a lush plant even in this country.

Zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis zebrinus) attracts attention and is simply a particularly eye-catcher in every garden. This is due to the special type of the Chinese reed with its white or yellow stripes. The horizontal stripes also gave the popular ornamental plant its name. Zebra grass is easy to care for and grows to an impressive size. If the location and substrate match, there is nothing to prevent the plant from Asia from growing and thriving. We'll tell you what to consider when planting zebra grass below.

Plant Description

At first glance, zebra grass can be distinguished from the other representatives of the Chinese reed. The stalks are crossed by white or yellow horizontal stripes at almost precise intervals. The plant grows abundantly, whereby the individual stalks can reach a height of up to 1.5 meters. When the zebra grass is in bloom, it can often reach a height of almost two meters. The brown panicles look like tufts of feathers and shimmer slightly silvery. Zebra grass blooms in autumn, but very rare in our latitudes. Summers are usually too short and too cool.

After long and hot summers, the chances of blooming zebra grass are particularly good.

Origin, distribution and use

The sweet grass, often referred to as elephant grass, comes from the East Asian region and is particularly widespread in Japan, China and Korea. Zebras grass grows there both in coastal areas and at altitudes up to around 1,800 meters. Zebra grass is grown commercially in Asia.

In Asia, the brown panicles appear already in summer.

Zebra grass was introduced as an ornamental plant in the USA and was able to spread uncontrollably through seeds. Particularly extensive deposits can be found along the Atlantic coast. In Europe, the plant has been cultivated as an ornamental plant since the 1950s.

In his Asian homeland, zebra grass is planted specifically as wind and privacy protection. Use as a material for mats and braiding is also common. The use as a forage plant has also established itself in our latitudes. Guinea pigs and rabbits love to eat the non-toxic sweet grass.

Find the right location

The fairly straightforward zebra grass can be used in a variety of ways. Plantations on ponds are popular. The sweet grass also provides a view and structure in herbaceous borders. When planted alone, you will be able to observe particularly well how the zebra grass spreads lushly and grows in every gardening year. Since the grasses can reach impressive heights of around two meters, their use as a privacy screen is also popular.

" Tip: If the zebra grass is to be planted as a hedge, a planting distance of at least one meter should be maintained.

The zebra gas prefers a sunny to half shady site. If the location is chosen too shady, hobby gardeners will probably have to accept restrictions in the abundance of flowers and color effects of the sweet grass.

The strong blades of zebra grass defy wind and weather. Restrictions in this regard are not absolutely necessary. The stalks will not break, but can look rather disheveled and unsightly after storms. This is why the pretty grasses come into their own best in a sunny and sheltered location.

" Tip: In a location that is too shady and cool, the zebra grass loses its characteristic leaf drawing over time.


  • sunny
  • bright
  • sheltered
  • near the pond
  • in isolation
  • in herbaceous beds

Choose the ideal substrate

The zebra grass places some demands on the ground. The moisture content of the substrate should be well balanced. The earth must neither appear too wet nor too dry. A soil that is too barren will also not be good for sweet grass. Because zebra grass does not tolerate waterlogging, the permeability of the soil is particularly important. Rainwater and irrigation water must therefore be able to drain off well and must not accumulate in the ground, which would attack the roots of the plant. If the substrate has both loamy and sandy components, the soil is ideal for decorative ornamental grass.

If you have the opportunity to determine the pH of the soil, you should not miss it. If the value is between 4.6 and 7.5, ideal soil conditions can be assumed. When planting, also pay attention to an appropriate top soil thickness. This should not be less than 36 cm.


  • permeable
  • nutritious
  • humos
  • sandy
  • loamy

Planting zebra grass - explained step by step

❶ Select location
❷ Prepare the floor
❸ Dig out the planting hole
❹ Prepare excavation
❺ Introduce root barrier
Einsetzen Insert the plant
❼ Fill up the substrate
❽ Press the earth firmly into place
Ießen Water the plant well

Once you have selected the right location, the soil must first be prepared for planting. Remove weeds, stones and roots from the soil. You can then dig out the planting hole. This should be at least twice the size of the root ball.

" Tip: When preparing the soil, the plant should be placed in a bucket so that the root ball can soak up sufficient liquid before planting.

If you put the excavation into a wheelbarrow, you can prepare the substrate there well and bring in ripe compost, bark humus or horn shavings. This natural slow-release fertilizer promotes the growth of the plant.

So that the zebra grass does not literally grow over your head, you should not neglect to create a root barrier when planting. This prevents the roots of the zebra grass from spreading uncontrollably. The plants form rhizomes and can stretch their roots up to 2.5 meters deep. Root barriers are commercially available and consist of a stable geotextile. Make sure to line the planting hole with the root barrier and seal it well so that the plant cannot blow it up.

The plant is placed in the center of the prepared planting hole and now fill up the prepared substrate. Press the soil well and water the zebra grass well at first.

" Tip: Place a watering rim about ten centimeters high around the plant. Then the zebra grass can absorb water better.

Plant the zebra grass in a bucket

The easy-care and uncomplicated zebra grass can also be cultivated in a bucket. Since the plant grows quickly and abundantly, you will have to transplant it more often. If you decide to start with a larger planter, the sweet grass can remain in the tub for the first two to three years.

" Tip: The suitable bucket for the zebra grass should have a volume of at least 30 liters.

Make sure that there are enough drainage holes for liquid in the floor. The susceptibility to waterlogging is particularly high in tub plants. Before planting in the tub, you should create a drainage so that the water can drain away better. To do this, apply pottery shards, grit or expanded clay to the bottom of the vessel. Cover a water and air permeable fleece over it and then fill with substrate.

" Tip: If you leave an edge about five centimeters wide on the planter, then it does not happen that water spills out in an uncontrolled manner.

The most important facts at a glance

Determine location
  • The plant is best used in a sunny, isolated location.
  • Planting on pond edges or in perennial borders is particularly attractive.
  • If the stand is too shady, the flower and leaf markings suffer.
Select substrate
  • The plants need a loose and nutritious substrate.
  • The irrigation water must always be able to drain well so that no waterlogging occurs.
  • A loamy sandy soil offers the best conditions for growing sweet grass.
Make planting
  • The zebra grass should be watered before planting.
  • The planting hole must be excavated at least twice the width of the root ball.
  • Before planting, a root barrier should be placed in the planting hole.