Muhly Grass

Muhlenbergia capillaris (pronunciation – mew len BER jee uh kap pill LAIR riss), common name muhly grass, is an herbaceous, ornamental grass with a clumping form that grows 3 to 4 feet tall and approximately as wide. This tough Florida native is very tolerant of drought and flooding, moderately salt tolerant and thrives in a wide range of soil types (although sandy or rocky soil is best) making it a great choice for many landscapes. Unlike most grasses, it has a stiff, upright growth habit. In the fall, its wispy flowers emerge well above the foliage in a dramatically beautiful pinkish-purple display. But even after they’ve lost their color, muhly grass adds interest to the landscape due to its unusual form. For this reason, it is best to wait until late winter or very early spring to cut the clumps back to 6 inches. This will clear the way for new foliage and increase air circulation. Leaving the clumps unpruned over the winter also creates habitat for wildlife.

Plant muhly grass three feet apart in full to part sun (full sun is best) for a beautiful mass planting. You can plant them further apart of course, or use just one or a few to add interesting texture to a perennial garden. Muhly grass is a hardy perennial in zones 7 through 11; and other than a yearly pruning, it is virtually maintenance free. It’s great for cut flowers and even basket making. Slaves in the south (especially Charleston, SC) used to harvest the long, wiry grass blades and use them, along with other native plant materials, to weave sweetgrass baskets (one of the oldest art forms of African origin in the United States).

At Native Nurseries, we stock muhly grass most of the year in 1-gallon pots (and sometimes 3-gallon). Currently they are available in 1-gal. pots only. As always, give us a call to check availability before making a special trip (although we’re always happy to see you). Sorry . . . we do not ship plants.

Some information for this blog post came from the following sources –