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10 Expert Gardening Tips on Growing Hakonechloa – The Most Elegant Shade Groundcover Ever!

Hakonechloa Aureola - the most elegant shade groundcover ever!

Hakonechloa produces a gorgeous mound of narrow, arching leaves  that is useful for bringing bright color to the shade garden. It has a graceful, almost tropical like habit and is considered by some to be one of the most stunning groundcovers for the shade garden. Two of the more popular varieties include  bright gold leaf All Gold and Aureola which has gold leaves with stripes of bright green.

I’ve known gardeners that have been  successful with growing Hakonechloa and others who struggle growing this shade loving groundcover.  Essentially, this is a slow growing shade perennial that takes more than a couple of years to become mature.

Design Tips

Hakonechloa works well in so many shade settings as a foliage plant. Use it singly, in containers, or mass as a ground cover in front of a shady border.  For inspiring design ideas & photography check out  Design Ideas with Hakonechloa –Elegant Shade Ground Cover. Since you get 3 seasons of foliage color it combines terrific with various colors of Heuchera.

1o Tips on Growing the most beautiful Hakonechloa ever!

1)     Soil. It thrives in a rich, somewhat acidic soil in well drained site. If you give them average soil, they will be small to average in size.

2)     Planting. Dig a hole 3 times the height & width of your container and fill in with good organic matter.  Take the time to do this because it will make a difference

3)    Exposure. Full sun to part shade.  Hakonechloa grows well in full sun (in the north anyway) Protect from the hot afternoon sun.

4)    Water. Hakonechloa require lots of moisture. Water frequently the first year. If you have an irrigation system – terrific.

5)    Keep away from tree roots. Best to plant near but not directly under trees or large shrubs. Depending on the type, tree & shrub roots are moisture & nutrient robbers.  Plants often will stay small and often struggle if competing with neighboring roots.

6)    Keep roots cool. Plant in a location where they will receive shade during the hottest part of the day.   Use 3” of mulch after planting to keep roots cool until plants become established.

7)   Feeding. Use a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote according to package directions.

8)    Don’t cut back in the fall. If you are in a northern climate, wait until spring to either cut back or rake away previous year’s growth.

9)    Winter protection. My friend, Barb is a landscape designer in Minnesota (Zone 4) and use LOTS of Hakonechloa is in her garden design.  She uses pine boughs as a winter mulch. She has always been successful overwintering these plants.

10)   Planting & Spacing. I’ll often space Hakonechloa closer than other groundcovers (8-10” apart).  That way they fill in faster.  Plant in the spring so roots can establish themselves and be patient.

Container Growing

My friend Jayne, grows Hakonechloa in containers in her Zone 4 garden.  Here are her tips for container growing:

  • Use drip irrigation  (keeps the plants  evenly moist)
  • Slow Release liquid feed
  • Replace soil every 2 years
  • Bury the pots & cover with pine boughs for the winter

Growing Hakonechloa is a bit like reading Tolstoy’s War & Peace.  It is a bit of an undertaking, but don’t  let these proven  growing tips intimidate you from growing this magnificent shade loving groundcover in your perennial garden.

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