Why Is Your Maiden Grass Turning Brown?

Maiden grass is green and silver during the growing season and is common in many parts of the world. However, it can experience issues from time to time, one of which is browning in color. So, why is your maiden grass turning brown, and what can you do to fix it?

Your maiden grass could be turning brown for various reasons. For example, you might be overwatering it, which can cause browning and, eventually, death. Other reasons may include underwatering, diseases, pests, lack of sunlight, or too much sunlight. It could also be reaching the end of its life.

This article will discuss why your maiden grass is turning brown and how to fix the issue in more detail. Keep reading if you want to learn more!

Reasons Your Maiden Grass Is Dying


Firstly, you should consider how frequently you water your maiden grass. It’s also important to consider how much water you use for each watering. Although your ornamental grass must be hydrated, it shouldn’t be overwatered because this can cause issues.

So, you might wonder how often you should water your maiden grass. Generally, it’s not necessary to water fully grown plants because they receive enough water from rainfall and other elements. However, if you live in a dry climate without much rain, you might need to water every so often.

If the plant is not yet fully grown, water it once weekly to ensure the roots have enough hydration to grow and thrive. Thankfully, maiden grass is drought-tolerant once fully established, so it shouldn’t experience issues even if the weather is arid.

So as you can imagine, overwatering maiden grass is problematic.

Avoid Watering in Colder Months

While it’s generally not necessary to water maiden grass at all (even during summer), you must avoid overwatering it during the cold months.

Watering helps plants like maiden grass thrive and is vital for photosynthesis because it gives them energy. But during the winter, they don’t need as much energy. Therefore, they won’t need as much water. 

Other Considerations

There are other things to consider when it comes to watering maiden grass. Firstly, the soil must be well-draining. Otherwise, it will trap water, damaging the plant and turning it brown. It could also lead to problems like root rot, which I’ll discuss later in the article. 

Here are the main symptoms of overwatered maiden grass:

  • Brown grass
  • Overly wet soil
  • Yellowing
  • Soft, mushy foliage
  • Droopy grass and leaves

How To Fix

You may be unable to fix your maiden grass if it’s dying due to being overwatered. It largely depends on the grass’s damage, so you’ll need to examine it to see if you can salvage it.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Cut away grass that is beyond fixing. This includes grass that appears dead or overly mushy. 
  • Stop watering immediately. The last thing you want to do is continue watering the maiden grass. Instead, keep it dry and only water it if the weather becomes too dry.
  • Give it time. Once you stop watering the grass, it should begin to heal. However, it can take a few days to a few weeks to fully recover, so be patient!


In the last section, I discussed how overwatering your maiden grass could cause it to turn brown and die. But underwatering is also a possible cause of browning grass, so you must consider this a possibility.

Dehydration isn’t common in maiden grass because it’s relatively hardy in hot and cold weather. However, it can become dehydrated if it doesn’t receive enough moisture over a long period. 

Even though maiden grass is drought-tolerant, being in a drought for too long can cause it to become dehydrated, which can turn the grass brown. That’s why it’s good to ensure it gets enough water during hot weather or heat waves when there is little to no precipitation.

One way to find out if underwatering is the culprit is to feel the soil in the surrounding area. If it feels dry, it probably needs more water. If it feels normal and moist, the issue is caused by something other than underwatering.

Here are the main symptoms of underwatered maiden grass:

  • Brown leaves 
  • Dry, crispy leaf/grass texture
  • Drooping leaves
  • Dry soil

How To Fix

The immediate solution to fix underwatered maiden grass is to water it, so it becomes rehydrated. Get the water deep into the roots by using plenty at once. Water every few days until you start to see signs of improvement.

Besides watering, you should also cut away parts that are overly damaged and beyond fixing. Also, avoid watering too much because the last thing you want is for the grass to become drenched–as you know from the previous section, overwatering can also cause a host of issues!


Moving on from over and underwatering, diseases are other things to consider if your maiden grass is turning brown and dying. Generally, maiden grass isn’t susceptible to diseases, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get them.

Many ornamental kinds of grass, like maiden grass, can become infected under certain conditions, so it’s good to be aware of the most common diseases and their symptoms and fixes. Below are some primary diseases to watch out for in your maiden grass.

Grass Rust

Unfortunately, maiden grass is susceptible to grass rust under certain conditions. Grass rust is a fungal infection that causes the grass to turn brown and rusty. It most commonly occurs around August and continues into the fall months. 

Feed the maiden grass regularly during the summer to deal with grass rust. You should also ensure enough airflow is available by pruning surrounding plants when necessary, as this will decrease moisture levels, making it harder for fungi to grow.

Ornamental Leaf Spot

Ornamental leaf spot occurs on ornamental grasses, including maiden grass, and it’s the same as the leaf spot that appears on other types of plants. 

There are two main types of leaf spot: bacterial and fungal.

Both spread under similar conditions. Warm, moist environments are favorable for bacterial and fungal growth, so if your maiden grass is in such an environment, you may want to consider leaf spot as a possible cause.

Symptoms of leaf spot include brown patches around the leaves. In some instances, the outer edges may be a slightly different color than the center of the circles.

To fix ornamental leaf spot, ensure there isn’t too much overcrowding. Overcrowding can reduce airflow, meaning the environment becomes moister. Eventually, this leads to fungal or bacterial growth, leading to leaf spot. Remove some plants if necessary to free up some space.

If the leaf spot is fungal, consider using a fungicide to clear the infection. It’s also helpful to prune any leaves that are affected.

Root Rot

Unlike leaf spot, there is only one type of root rot: fungal. It is generally caused by overwatering, so it’s vital to ensure you don’t give your grass too much water. As you may imagine from the name, root rot affects the roots, so it can be challenging to manage once it becomes significant.

It can also be caused by soil that retains water and doesn’t drain well, so be sure that your soil is well-draining if you suspect root rot to be the issue.

Symptoms of root rot in maiden grass include:

  • Browning and yellowing leaves
  • Stunted growth
  • Soft roots
  • Wilting

According to Utah State University, the best way to deal with ornamental root rot (like the Phytophthora variety) is to remove affected plants from the soil. 

From there, you can plant new ornamental grass. You may want to use a fungicide in the soil and incorporate new soil before planting something new to ensure the fungus doesn’t spread to newly planted ornamental grass.

Although removing affected root parts in houseplants is possible, it’s more challenging to do this with maiden grass because there are many more roots to deal with. That’s why removing everything and starting over is the best choice.

Powdery Mildew

Although this one is less likely because it generally causes a white powdery substance to form on the leaves, it can sometimes cause browning. Powdery mildew is another fungal disease affecting many plants globally. It occurs when different types of fungi (like Erysiphe, Microsphaera, or Phyllactinia) begin to grow on the grass.

Like other fungal diseases, this one also spreads due to overcrowding or too much moisture in the environment. You can use fungicides to treat powdery mildew, but ensuring your grass has enough airflow is crucial. You may need to remove some plants to allow for more space.


While pests aren’t commonly associated with maiden grass, they can sometimes cause issues. There are different pests to look out for, but each can cause brown spots to appear and may cause the grass to die. Some of the most common pests in maiden grass include aphids and mites.

Below, I’ll discuss the most common pests in more detail.


Aphids are tiny insects that are often difficult to see on plants. They like to suck sap from ornamental grasses and many other types of plants.

When it comes to appearance, they can be different colors, including:

  • Green
  • White
  • Black
  • Brown

The green ones may be harder to see on the green parts of maiden grass, so you’ll need to look closely to spot these insects.

Symptoms of aphids on maiden grass include:

  • Browning leaves
  • Yellowing leaves
  • Droopy leaves
  • Groups of aphids around the grass
  • Tiny holes that may be difficult to see from far away

To fix this issue, you must physically remove the aphids from the grass by wiping them away. You may also want to prune any highly damaged leaves to allow new growth to come through. Other solutions like neem oil and horticultural oils may help.


Mites are other pests to consider if your maiden grass is turning brown and dying. These arachnids are generally red or brown and feed off the leaves of the plants. As a result, they can leave holes around the grass leaves.

Symptoms of mites in maiden grass may include:

  • Brown leaves
  • Drooping leaves
  • Yellowing
  • Tiny holes
  • Cobwebs

One of the best ways to keep mites at bay is to water regularly. However, avoid overwatering, as this can cause other issues. You may also want soap or rubbing alcohol to wipe them away. Maintaining and rejuvenating your ornamental grass will ensure the mites remain at bay. Read my guide to learn how: How to Rejuvenate Your Ornamental Grass (10 Ways)

Japanese Beetles

According to Penn State Extension, Japanese beetles are a problem throughout the eastern United States on different grass, plants, and trees. So, these little pests may be why your maiden grass is turning brown and dying.

These beetles have black, green, and brown-orangish bodies. They like to feed on plants during hot weather, so you’re most likely to see them during the day.

Symptoms of Japanese beetles include:

  • Brown grass
  • Larvae on the grass leaves
  • Beetles on the grass
  • Holes

You can apply soap and water to the grass to fix the issue. You can also remove them physically by wiping them, but this may be difficult if you have a lot of maiden grass. Neem oil is another helpful solution to consider. 


Thrips are tiny insects that are generally hard to see unless you look closely. They can be different colors, including black and brown. Thrips can cause brown patches on your maiden grass, so you should inspect the leaves to check if any are in the vicinity. 

The best way to remove thrips from maiden grass and other ornamental grasses is to wipe them away with a damp cloth. You may also want to water the grass to rinse them out, but avoid overwatering because you could cause the soil to become waterlogged.

The Maiden Grass Has Reached the End of Its Lifespan

If you’ve had your maiden grass for many years, it might be nearing the end of its lifespan. In that case, there’s not much you can do about it, so you may want to let it die or remove it and plant new grass or plants.

The average lifespan of maiden grass is 15-20 years, but you must care for it properly if you expect it to reach this age. So, if the grass has been around for at least 10 years, consider letting it run its course. 

When maiden grass becomes old and starts to die, one of the first things you’ll notice is browning. Eventually, the growth will stop, and the leaves will appear drooped. If the grass is only a few years old, it shouldn’t be reaching the end of its life (unless you haven’t taken proper care of it). So, in that case, consider other reasons.

Lack of Sunlight

For most ornamental grasses, sunlight is essential for healthy growth. While maiden grass doesn’t need much sunlight, it needs at least partial sun. So if it’s constantly in the shade, it’s more likely to turn brown and start dying. 

Sunlight is one of the three main things all plants (including maiden grass) need for photosynthesis. Without photosynthesis, plants cannot grow and will eventually die.

Here are some of the signs that your maiden grass isn’t getting enough sunlight:

  • Wilting leaves
  • Brown or yellowing leaves
  • Stunted growth

How To Fix

If you suspect your maiden grass isn’t getting enough sunlight, give it more sun. If that’s not possible, it’s best to replant in an area that isn’t shaded all day. While you don’t have to put it in a spot that gets sun all day, you should aim to give it at least a few hours of sunlight each day.

Too Much Sunlight

Inadequate levels of sunlight can cause your maiden grass to turn brown and die, but too much can also cause problems.

Too much sun can cause the maiden grass to receive too much energy, which can be highly damaging in the long run. Below are the main signs that maiden grass is receiving too much sunlight:

  • Browning leaves, especially at the tips
  • Some leaves might appear lighter
  • Droopy leaves

How To Fix

The first thing you should do is get the maiden grass out of direct sunlight immediately. Ensure it’s fully shaded so that it can have a chance to recover. You can also cut away any highly damaged grass to allow new growth. 

If it’s received too much sunlight, there’s also a chance of dehydration. So, it’d be good to thoroughly water the maiden grass to ensure it doesn’t dehydrate. Once the grass shows signs of improvement, it might be OK to give it sunlight again.

Brown or Tan Colors Can Be Normal During Fall and Winter

Although brown colors can often be a cause for concern in maiden grass, they’re sometimes nothing to worry about–this is especially true if you notice the color change during fall and winter rather than spring or summer. 

That’s because most varieties of maiden grass turn brown or tan during fall. So, you don’t always have to panic if your maiden grass is turning brown because sometimes, it’s completely healthy and natural.

But if you notice other symptoms, like stunted growth or droopy leaves, there’s likely an issue at play.


Maiden grass can turn brown for various reasons. The most common include leaf spot, overwatering, and underwatering. However, pests and too much sunlight can also be the culprits. Examine your ornamental grass to come to the most appropriate conclusion.

Although browning maiden grass often indicates something is wrong, it’s sometimes normal (if it occurs during fall or winter). Watch out for other worrying symptoms to decide whether or not you need to take action.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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