This choice perennial from Japan is one of the few ornamental grasses that thrive in shade. Clumps of narrow, gracefully arching leaves grow 13 ft. tall; they spread somewhat wider by underground runners but advance slowly and are not invasive. Delicate sprays of flowers among the leaves in mid- to late summer are attractive but not showy. Whole plant turns an attractive buff color in winter. Good candidate for rock gardens, patio containers. The species has solid green leaves that turn coppery orange in fall, but most gardeners plant types with variegated leaves to bring summer color to shade gardens. Try them in combination with evergreens with dark green foliage, such as rhododendron, camellia, Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii), or green-leafed Japanese aucuba. Plant in spring in rich, moist, well-drained soil. Does not like drought or root competition. Deer resistant.
'Albovariegata' ('Albo Striata'). To 3 ft. high, with leaves striped lengthwise in green and white.
'All Gold'. Forms a 1 ft.-high mound of bright golden leaves.
'Aureola'. Most popular selection. To 112 ft. high. Green leaves have longitudinal yellow stripes; in deep shade, the yellow turns to chartreuse. Foliage is sometimes suffused with pink in cool weather. Looks nice next to blue-leafed hostas.
'Nicolas'. A green-leafed dwarf selection (just 10 in. high) selected for its dependable fall color. Leaves turn brilliant red, orange, and chartreuse when weather cools. Great in containers.