This versatile grass is a plant superstar, putting on a fabulous show each fall even if it receives little care during the year.
Muhly grass is naturally found in Florida's pine flatwoods, coastal uplands and even along its highways, but these days it’s also a popular choice in home and commercial landscapes.
Known scientifically as Muhlenbergia capillaris, this easy-to-grow ornamental grass produces clumps that can reach 2 to 3feet tall and up to 3 feet wide when mature.
In fall, muhly grass produces fluffy pink to purple flower stalks that can reach up to 5 feet tall and give the plant a distinctive and attractive appearance. A lovely white-flowering form is also available.
Garden designers often plant muhly grass in large groups for a stunning visual effect, especially when the flowers are backlit in the late afternoon.
Muhly grass looks good in the garden even after the flower stalks fade, thanks to its slender, dark green foliage.
Planting and Care
Muhly grass can be grown throughout Florida and is often used in borders or in mass plantings for a beautiful, drift-like effect. They should be spaced 24 to 36 inches apart.
Like most ornamental grasses, muhly grass will perform best if it’s planted in a sunny area. Water new plants until they are established. After that, they’ll have good drought tolerance.
Plants can be cut back to the ground in late winter before the spring flush of foliage appears. You can also give the plants an application of fertilizer as they begin to grow rapidly in spring.
As the plants age, they can be lifted in early spring and divided to create new plants.
For more information on muhly grass, contact your county Extension office.
- Considerations for Selections and Use of Ornamental Grasses
- A Guide to Environmentally Friendly Landscaping: Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook
- Muhlenbergia capillaris Muhly Grass
- Muhlenbergia capillaris 'White Cloud' ID Sheet (PDF)
- Muhly Grass Puts on a Show in Fall (PDF)
Also on Gardening in a Minute
- Muhlenbergia capillaris--Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- Muhlenbergia capillaris--Floridata.com
- Muhly Grass Puts on a Show--Mississippi State University Office of Agricultural Communications
- Plant of the Week: Muhly Grass--University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service