Miscanthus “Giganteus”: Information and Care

Miscanthus Giganteus is a grass that works as a privacy screen. Why should you consider it and how do you take care of it?

Are you looking for a tall, fast-growing grass that may be used as a privacy screen? Or a grass that is useful to animals such as deer and produces magnificent, tall, bamboo-like stalks?

Miscanthus giganteus, or elephant grass, a woody perennial grass native to Asia, is your answer. Its stems are 3/8 inch in diameter, and it grows 12 to 14 feet each year. 

Despite its quick growth, miscanthus is a cold-hardy grass that requires little nutrition and is resistant to pests and diseases.

Different from Other Miscanthus Species

Miscanthus is a grass genus with approximately 20 species. Several other plants in this genus are invasive and should not be planted.

But miscanthus x giganteus is a sterile hybrid, so its seeds are non-viable, and the plant is not invasive.

Because the seeds are sterile, they can only be spread by dividing their rhizome roots. Rhizomes can be acquired from either online or local merchants. They must be kept moist from harvest to planting and during storage and shipment.

tall and giant miscathus grass in a beautiful open sapcce

Initial Costs and Labor

There are significant upfront costs, and the labor required to plant miscanthus x giganteus is considerable. But when compared to planting annual screenings, it is significantly less expensive, with far superior results, when looking across multiple years.

A one-time planting of this giant grass will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

How to Plant and Establish Giant Miscanthus

It is essential to select an appropriate planting location. Miscanthus needs abundant sunlight, no competition from other plants and plenty of water.

Miscanthus x giganteus tolerates a variety of soils, but as with all plants, the richer and more fertile the soil, the better the plant development. Sandy or dry soils in particular, will result in slower growth.

For this grass to thrive, the pH of the soil should be between 5.5 and 7.5. It does not tolerate standing water, so make sure the selected location drains well. 

To prepare the area, first remove any existing plants. Use an herbicide, preferably in the fall prior to planting.

Planting should begin in the spring, as soon as the weather permits. Work the soil as deeply as possible to loosen it, and once again, make sure no other vegetation is present. This helps the rhizomes form new roots and establish themselves quickly.

Tall and spaced green german grass as yard fencing

Spacing and Depth

When planting for screening, rhizomes should be planted 18 inches apart in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. The optimal planting depth is 3 to 5 inches.

Plant three to five rows of giant miscanthus to create an effective screen.

Weed Control

After giant miscanthus has established itself, it will push out any weeds. Until then, regular weeding or the use of a pre-emergent herbicide, such as atrazine, will help your grass grow faster.

If using a pre-emergent herbicide, use it at the rate specified for corn on the packaging. If weeds appear, spray them with 2-4D once they reach the same height as your miscanthus plants. For the appropriate usage of 2-4D, refer to the directions on the packaging. This weed control product won’t affect your miscanthus.

If unwanted grasses still become a problem, they are best removed by hand.

Care and Maintenance

Miscanthus Giganteus is a fast-growing plant that will nearly quadruple in size in a year! It can tolerate freezing temperatures in Hardiness Zones 4–9. It is also drought tolerant. However, it cannot tolerate damp conditions because its woody roots can rot.

Tall and gigantic clump of yellow and green grass


It’s recommended not to fertilize miscanthus during the first year. Allow the immature plants to establish their roots instead.

After the first year, only a small amount of fertilizer is required to keep the plant growing. Use it only every two to four years. 

The plant benefits from nitrogen, so I recommend that you apply urea. Urea is a granular kind of nitrogen that may be bought in bags at most agricultural supply stores. You may also use a 12-12-12 or 15-15-15 fertilizer.

Pruning Maintenance

To allow new growth to sprout, mow or burn your giant miscanthus every two to three years in late winter to remove all old growth.

If you plan to burn the plants, check your local laws first to ensure you’re allowed to do it and that you’re doing so safely.

Growth Rate

In the first year, each rhizome should produce a plant with one to four stalks that grow 4 to 8 feet tall. In the second year, the plants will produce four to eight 8- to 12-foot-tall stalks. By the end of the third growing season, most plants should have at least eight stalks that are 12 to 14 feet tall. Under ideal conditions, you may have 20 to 25 stalks.

These are only averages; your results may vary depending on your growing location and circumstances. But after three years, you should have great screening coverage.

Tall grasses in an open field starting to dried under the heat of the sun

How to Use Miscanthus in Landscapes

This grass may swiftly reach a height of 12 feet in good soil. Its bamboo-like stems can survive heavy winds and snow. It takes on lovely colors in the fall and looks appealing all winter long. As a result, it’s great for concealing streets or entryways. It can also be used as a hunting blind.

It’s best to give this plant plenty of room to grow because it might be difficult to dig up once it’s mature.

Other Uses and Interesting Facts

Miscanthus giganteus was initially hybridized for the biofuel industry due to the high amount of plant material it generates. It may produce the energy equivalent to 35 barrels of crude oil each year on a single acre. This grass may generate 10 to 25 tons of dry biomass per acre per year with adequate rainfall.

Miscanthus has a harvest window that lasts from October to April, although you can harvest it whenever you choose. When left standing all winter, the plant dries to a moisture level of 15%. That means that, unlike maize or wood, it burns without needing to be dried further.

Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
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