Genre Miscanthus brings together about twenty species of herbaceous plants whose height varies from 30 cm to nearly 4 m. These perennials, which can be rhizomatous or cespitose, originating from Asian and African marshes, belong to the family of Poaceae. Commonly known as Chinese Reed, Eulalie or Elephant Grass, Miscanthus is a multitasking grass that is attracting enthusiasm, particularly in the field of permaculture, because of its ecological interest. Let’s discover the Miscanthus, still little known to amateur gardeners. Let’s take this opportunity to take stock of its many advantages that have earned it its good reputation.
Miscanthus, a plant of high ecological interest
The advantages of Miscanthus are multiple.
- Useful for the auxiliary fauna of the garden, it provides shelter and cover for many insects, birds, small animals such as hedgehogs, bats…
- Keeps slugs and snails away, major pests in the garden, due to its high silica content which is irritating to gastropods.
- Has a high absorbency (3 times more than straw), hence the interest of using it to offer a litter of choice to poultry.
- Constitutes an effective mulch because it retains moisture well in the soil even in the event of drought, and considerably limits the development of weeds.
- Reduces watering and hoeing time, and consequently saves water and the use of chemical weedkillers.
- Hold the earth.
- Limit soil leaching.
- Does not acidify the soil, unlike pine bark, for example, which is sometimes avoided as mulch.
- Represents a good insulator so that it protects the roots of plants against cold and high heat.
- Enriches the soil with nutrients as it decomposes.
- Exemption from using fertilizers.
- Stimulates the development of earthworms and the microbial life essential to plants.
- Preserves the airy structure of the soil which is important to ensure good drainage.
- Promotes plant growth.
- Push fast.
- Is very resistant to spray, excess water, drought, cold, frost, snow, wind.
- Has no pests.
- Displays a longevity of approximately 20 years.
It should also be noted that the large miscanthus make it possible to obtain 15 to 20 tons per hectare of dry matter with only 2 feet per square meter.
How to use Miscanthus?
The uses of miscanthus are numerous. It constitutes a excellent insulator and is therefore used in the field of construction. Canes can be used as combustible as soon as they are harvested (which takes place in winter) because it is not necessary to dry them. This is because they contain just over 17% moisture. For this same reason, it is interesting to make litter for poultry, but also for rabbits, cows, horses, guinea pigs, cats, caged birds…
In permaculture, we use a basic technique called mulch particularly useful for ecosystems to be able to withstand the increasingly dramatic consequences of global warming. Anyone with a garden should adopt this technique using a straw fertile from miscanthus, 100% natural and whose benefits are proven. We appreciate its high durability, up to 3 years, and its great versatility. You should therefore not deprive yourself of a miscanthus mulch regardless of the plants grown: annuals, biennials, perennials, shrubs, trees… From the pleasure garden to the vegetable patch, including the herb patch and the orchard, the mulched miscanthus reeds or canes do wonders.
Which Miscanthus to grow?
Miscanthus is grown for its ecological interest, but also because it gives the garden a highly aesthetic note. We love its spikelets which bloom from the end of August until the heart of autumn. Vaporous, silky, airy, graceful, they come alive with the slightest breath of wind and take on pretty reflections in bright light, red, pink, cream, silver, brown, purple or gold. Once dry, the miscanthus flower spikes remain decorative in winter and are particularly pretty when adorned with their frost coat.
Ces vigorous ornamental grasses being ultra resistant et undemanding, they are ideal for beginner gardeners as well as for all those who have little time to devote to their garden. It is interesting to plant different varieties as well as cultivars and hybrids to dress a rock garden, flower beds, liven up a bed or to create a hedge. When choosing, of course, you have to take their height into account.
- The category of 3 to 4 m includes miscanthus sinensis, floridulus and of course the hybrid x giganteus but which are mainly cultivated in the industrial field.
- Between 1.30 and 2.20m we find for example M. sinensis Graceful or the miscanthus far East, sacchariflorus, Graciella, Spark, Flamingo…
- The group of 0.70 to 1.20 m approximately includes among others M. sinensis Gold Sea bass and miscanthus Little zebra, Ghana, little miss, Adagio…
The rich variety of miscanthus allows you to create beautiful associations in the garden and therefore to combine the useful with the pleasant since one can thus take advantage of their multiple assets. All you have to do is plant the miscanthus selected according to your preferences in early spring. It’s important to loosen the soil well to a depth of about 20 cm and do not neglect watering during the first summer following planting. And if you don’t have a garden, don’t worry: miscanthus grow well in large containers, on the terrace or balcony.