How to Grow Arundo donax Plants in your Garden

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Spanish Cane

Arundo donax is classified as a tall perennial cane plant or reed. It is a member of the Poaceae (grass and bamboo) family.

It is called by several common names such as Giant reed, Elephant grass, Carrizo, Arundo, Spanish Cane, and Giant cane.

Spanish cane
Arundo donax photograph by Harry Rose.

It grows best in a wetland environment, and has been successfully planted all over the world.

Unfortunately, it has been somewhat too successful in some places as it has an invasive root system.

These roots can prevent other plant life from growing in the same area because of how tightly bound the root fibers are as they spread.

Arundo donax leaves
leaves of the variegated cultivar of Arundo donax photograph by Forest and Kim Starr; CC.

Scientists have begun growing the reed as a possible energy crop, as a sustainable biofuel. Arundo donax also has potential for phytoremediation; a plant used to clean air, soil, and water of contaminants.

Spanish Cane
Spanish Cane (Also known as Giant Reed), photograph by Miguel Angel Chamorro Moreno; CC.

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Giant Reed

Arundo donax is unable to be grown from seed, but spreads by an underground root system.

As the roots spread, clones of the main plant grow along with it. The plant grows much more quickly than surrounding plants and can easily outcompete them if left to run wild.

Giant reed grows best in wet soils. But can be grown in gravel or heavy clay soils, this can be beneficial as the root system will not spread as quickly.

A moderate watering schedule is recommended for the plant for the best growth. In more arid conditions the plant will simply die back, but will regrow when its water needs are met.

Arundo donax Growing and Care Guide

  • Scientific Name: Arundo donax
  • Common Name: Spanish cane, Giant reed
  • Growing Zone: USA: 6 to 10
  • Life Cycle / Plant Type: Grass, Perennial

Plant Details

  • Plant Height (Inches): 72 to 180
  • Plant Spread (Inches): 20 to 60
  • Time of Bloom: Early fall, Late fall, Mid fall
  • Flower Details: Green, Purple
  • Leaf Foliage: Green
  • Fruit:
  • Growth Form: Upright / erect

Ideal Growing Conditions

  • Best Light Conditions: Full sunlight
  • Rate of Growth: Quick
  • Suitable Soil Types: Adaptable, Clay, Loamy, Neutral, Sandy
  • Soil Moisture: Moist/Wet

Caring Conditions

  • Care:
  • Level of Maintenance:
  • Propagation: Seed, sown in containers in a cold frame in spring or bydivisionin early summer
  • How to Prune: Leaves can be cut off when they die back in late autumn
  • Pests: Usually pest free
  • Diseases: Usually pest free

Further Information

  • Can Attract: Birds
  • Tolerant of:
  • Best Garden Use: Container, Screen, Specimen, Winter interest
  • Family: Poaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Grasses.

  • Miscellaneous: Invasive, Entices birdlife to the garden, Attractive foliage, Non-native to North America, Naturalizing, Wetlands plant, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers, Attractive flowers / blooms
  • Genus Detail: Arundo
  • Further Reading and References: Here and Here

Arundo donax seed head
Arundo donax plant seed head, image by 阿橋 HQ; CC.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Arundo donax. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Avena and New Zealand Wind Grass.