PLANT OF THE WEEK: Pink (Gulf) Muhley Grass

By on September 15, 2011.

Muhlenberghia capillaris–  Pink Muhley grass is medium sized, perennial, native grass, ranging from Massachusetts down through the Gulf Coast. It has become quite prevalent in the nursery trade; partly due to  the New American Style grassy, swaths of plantings by Oehme van Sweden and partly to the plant itself. It possesses a fine and compact habit with late season, show stopping blooms of misty pink inflorescences and excellent tolerance to both wetland and dry conditions, winter hardiness and ease of  maintenance.

Upon further research, the USDA Natural Resource Services lists over 75 separate species in the genus and found across the North America. Muhlenbergia capillaris is by far the showiest. Other Muhley grasses are smaller and have more subdued, brown blooms, and are acclimated to more the central and northern plains and mountains. Often essential to their ecosystem.

Size/Habit/Lifetime:  Zones 5-10. Native to pine flatwoods, beach dunes and wet prairies. Size about 3 feet tall to 3 feet wide, taller in bloom. Wiry, unbranched leaves form a dense, compact and most notably upright habit. Leaf is rounded and olive green color.

Culture:  Full sun to partial shade, adaptable to almost any soil type and environment. Propagates well from seed, existing plant clumps can be divided and replanted. Responds very well to irrigation, good drought tolerance. The University of Florida offers potential planting  range from coast to coast along lower latitudes, as shown in the map below.


Flower/Fruit:  The flower, termed a panicle, measures up to 18″ tall. Plant can be a total of five feet tall in bloom. Color is reddish-purple-pink. Very fine, airy quality that creates and opaque pink wall. Blooms summer-winter, heaviest in fall. Flower remains on stems throughout winter offering extended interest.

Use:  Best in large planting swaths where its color can really be utilized. A good ground cover. Uses as a border grass in large beds or even second to third layer in a planting bed due to height. Beginning to be planted extensively in road shoulders and medians.

Further inofrmation can be attained at Floridata.com and The University of Florida.

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