One of the stand out plants in the fall garden is Pink Muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris. With its clouds of pinkish purple plumes dancing in the wind making a stunning display, it will stop traffic in your neighborhood.
Muhly grass is native to the southern and eastern United States. They often grow in dry or semidry regions, with adaptations that make them a good choice for low-water landscapes. This also means they appreciate well-drained soil to remain healthy and survive wet winters, which we can certainly provide. They need full sun and dry conditions to look their best, and may suffer in shade or wet summers. They do like a dryer spot in winter as well, they can rot if they stay too wet when it’s colder out. Muhly grass tolerates heat, humidity, drought, poor soil and is even highly salt tolerant. It’s not a deer favorite either. Like any ornamental grass, it looks better if it’s cut back in early spring, before the new growth starts, but it doesn’t need to be.
This beautiful grass gets to about 3 – 4’ tall and wide, vase shaped and tidy. The leaf blades are dark green and feel rounded to the touch. They look a little spiky, somewhat stiff and straight, but certainly don’t feel that way. In spring and summer, they provide great texture to the garden, stiff, but fine textured. The plant has a great V shape, nice with mounded shapes. In late summer the tiny rosy pink flowers emerge in airy groups, they are just starting here. They then develop into pinkish purple seed heads. Long-lived, with little to no insect or disease pests and highly resistant to deer grazing, this ornamental grass is perfect for the low-maintenance garden. Try massing it, the seed heads are absolutely gorgeous in a group, providing movement and structure to mixed borders. It is beautiful over in the meadow at the Delaware Botanic Garden, go take a look.
This isn’t a well known grass, but deserves to be much more popular. Try one today and see.
by Liz Nalle, contributor to the Coastal Point Newspaper