Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’ Hakone Japanese Forest Grass

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A golden variegated Hakone grass with lime green streaks. It grows in a flowy mound and pairs well with dark colored plants to create a fascinating contrast.

USDA Hardiness Map

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Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola, or Golden Japanese Forest Grass, is a gorgeous, variegated ornamental grass that is an outstanding choice for a shady spot in the garden. Its unusual colors and shade tolerance won it the 2009 Perennial Plant Association Plant of the Year and the 1993 Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. “Hakone” in its genus name, Hakonechloa, refers to the area around Mt. Hakone, where the plant is native in the central Japanese woodlands, and “chloa” is Greek for grass.
This variety of Hakonechloa macra has golden leaf blades with narrow green stripes near the edges that cascade like a waterfall. It grows slowly 12″ to 18″ high and up to 24″ wide and spreads by underground rhizomes. The gold and green colors last through the summer, then become tinged with pink in the fall before dying down when temperatures drop. In late summer, clusters of insignificant, yellow-green flowers bloom among the leaves.
Aureola grows best in moist, loose, well-draining soil, and the amount of sunlight it receives affects its color. It is the brightest gold in partial shade but darkens to lime-green in full shade. Its delicate leaves will burn in full sun, especially in the hot, southern part of its hardiness zones 5-9. In zones 8 and 9, Aureola needs partial or full shade but can tolerate morning sun with enough moisture. It can withstand more sun in the cooler zones if there is enough moisture but performs its best in partial shade. It’s important to water this plant during the warm weather and mulch it to keep the soil moist. Cut the dead leaves down in the winter or early spring before the new foliage appears.
This beautiful grass brightens woodland gardens, rock gardens, Asian gardens, or urban gardens. It is an excellent choice for borders and edging along paths and beds and as a bright cascade of color down a shady slope. Because of its size and shape, Aureola is also attractive as an accent plant in containers on a shady porch, patio, or entryway.
Companion plants need to have the same shade and moisture requirements as Aureola. Rhododendron, azalea, and hydrangea bushes look well planted nearby, and perennials like hostas, ferns, coral or foamy bells, Solomon seals, and astilbes are beautiful in the spring and summer. Asters, toad lilies, and Japanese anemones add some lovely color in the fall, and hellebores grace the garden in late winter to very early spring.
Golden Japanese Forest Grass is a winning ornamental because, in addition to its gorgeous color, it is pest- and disease-resistant, deer- and walnut-resistant, and urban pollution-tolerant.

Additional information

Weight N/A
Latin Name

Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’

Common Name

Hakone Japanese Forest Grass

Sun Exposure

Sun/Part Shade/Shade

Size at Maturity


Hardiness Zone

Zones 5-9




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