PLANT OF THE WEEK #101: Miscanthus sinensis var. condensatus 'Cosmopolitan'

So there are miscanthuses that fall into a ‘landscape’ category – that look fabulous en masse, or repeated about – and there are ‘novelty’ miscanthuses that should stand alone – that you only need one of.  Miscanthus sinensis var. condensatus ‘Cosmopolitan’ is definitely of the latter category.

Miscanthus ‘Cosmopolitan’ (which I’ll call it, from now on) is, without doubt, the best of all the variegated miscanthuses.  Before it emerged about ten years ago, all the other variegated forms, including the captivatingly curious M. ‘Zebrinus’ with striped running across, rather than along, the leaf blade, were all hopelessly floppy.  And there’s simply no nice way to stake a miscanthus.

M. ‘Cosmopolitan’ doesn’t, for a second, look like it needs staking.  It stands so proud it would take any attempt to stake it as a personal slight. And it’s so impressively muscular that you can’t help but think that it must be tetraploid – as if it’s made of altogether stronger and sterner stuff than virtually any other miscanthus. The variegation is as clean and unapologetic as is possible to dream up, and the flowers, standing at 2m+ (even in my hardly-watered specimens) are suffused with that curious dusky pink that reaches its zenith in the form named Miscanthus ‘Flamingo’.

The only thing that marks it down, on my evaluation chart at least, is that it wants more water than most of the other miscanthuses I grow.  I can do M. transmorrisonensis with no supplementary water (being relatively early to flower, before it gets too dry), while most of the later-flowering forms need an occasional water-boost.  M. ‘Cosmopolitan’ is just not worth growing without additional water.  It wants to work super-hard for you, and expects its needs to be met in order to do so.  

To my mind, it’s well worth any attention it demands.

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