moor grass ‘Transparent’

Molinia litoralis ‘Transparent’ is an easy to care for plant, requiring average to moist soils and full sun. Plants are tolerant of dry soils too. If you install transparent moor grass in your garden, do be aware that plants can take 2-3 years fully establish and flower. Planting in masses make for the best visual impact from transparent moor grass.

Molinia litoralis ‘Transparent’ brings a wonderful rich green to the spring and summer months, while in winter months bringing vibrant yellow and gold colors. Transparent moor grass makes a perfect four-season addition to any garden!

Botanical Name Molinia litoralis ‘Transparent’ syn. Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea ‘Transparent’
Common Name moor grass ‘Transparent’
Family Poaceae
USDA Zone 4 to 8
Light Requirement Full Sun to Part Shade
Season(s) of interest Summer, Fall, Winter
Height and Spread 2-6ft x 2-3ft (60-180cm x 60-90cm)
Flower Color Minimal, Green to Purplish Brown
Attracts Wildlife
Additional Information Native range: Eurasia
Location in Lurie Garden North Dark Plate, Southwest Dark Plate

How to grow: Molinia caerulea

‘Bergfreund’ (mountain’s friend) is similar to ‘Transparent’ and produces a paler branching head of rice-grain beads. ‘Karl Foerster’ is an old variety that flowers slightly earlier than most, producing purple airy heads reaching 6ft or more. ‘Windspiel’ has a more substantial form with pale gold or honey seedheads on upright, sturdy stems that reach up to 8ft feet in height.

‘Fontane’ is unique, with an arching habit and short, wide grassy heads in pale, purplish brown reaching 5ft. An upright American form called ‘Skyracer’ has pale-brown heads and can reach 8ft high.

Whichever you choose, this tall clump-forming grass will gleam in the low sunlight, dance in the wind and catch every raindrop – and allow you to gaze through to the autumn sky beyond.

Growing tips

Molinias can be slow to establish and the best way of growing them is to choose good-sized, well-grown plants in 2-litre pots. These will still take a couple of years to get moving. Once they are growing, they will not need dividing as they are clump-formers with a non-invasive habit.

Molinias tend to resent being disturbed. However, should you decide to propagate, carefully lift the clump in late spring (just as the foliage is emerging) and divide into large pieces. Replant the chunks in pots of soil-based compost and put them outside when the roots reach the bottom of the pot. Molinias disappear underground in winter and emerge quite late, so you may need to mark their position in a border.

Molinias flower consistently in midsummer throughout Britain – even in cool, damp summers – in marked contrast to its popular rival, Miscanthus sinensis, which can be very late in the cooler northern and central parts of Britain, often waiting until mid- September before producing its plumes.

Good companions

Molinias are deciduous and in autumn their foliage starts to yellow and wither slightly. For this reason I prefer to hide their lower reaches by growing them among autumn-flowering plants rather than as single specimens in open positions.

Mixing them with plants of a similar height also protects the seedheads from the worst of the weather, making them more enduring.

The plumed heads of Miscanthus sinensis and the intricately beaded heads of Panicum virgatum (switch grass) both produce stunning silhouettes that blend effectively with molinias. Autumn perennials, including the dark-leaved Aster laevis ‘Calliope’, Aconitum carmichaelii ‘Arendsii’, tall solidagos, eupatoriums, persicarias and the purple giant Vernonia crinita ‘Mammuth’ also provide strong upright shapes that contrast effectively with these delicate grasses.

Where to buy

Phoenix Perennial Plants, Paice Lane, Medstead, Alton, Hampshire GU34 5PR (01420 560695). No mail order available. Send 4 x 1st-class stamps for a catalogue.

Marchants Hardy Plants, 2 Marchants Cottages, Ripe Road, Laughton, East Sussex BN8 6AJ (01323 811737). No mail order available. Send 4 x 1st-class stamps for a catalogue.

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