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PLANTS OF NOTE - MUHLY GRASS


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2017/10/16




The first time I planted Muhlenbergia capillaris, AKA Muhly Grass was in the Adopt-a-Plot Focal Garden in Ault Park. I was already smitten with this tidy clumping grass, but it wasn't until I saw it in the garden that I knew this was a stellar plant.

When you approach the garden from the street or across the Great Lawn and down the stairs, this grass appears to glow in the morning and evening sun. It's one of the handful of plants in the gardens that makes people stop and ask, What is this!?

Unlike many perennials and shrubs that we rely on for gorgeous fall colors of rust, copper and burgundy, Muhly grass delivers colors of pink. In the Wimberg Focal Garden, the pink plumes of the Muhly grass is an excellent complement to the purple of the 'Little Spire' Russian Sage, the silvery white of the Lambs' ears and the burgundy of the Shenandoah Switch Grass.

Thoughtful Planting Required
To help your Muhly Grass perform at its best, there are a few steps you should take.
- Plant in full sun. It will tolerate part sun, but it's at its best in full sun.
- Well draining soil. This grass doesn't like cold, wet feet in the winter. A surefire way to turn this perennial into an annual is to plant it in heavy, poorly draining soil that's too wet, especially in the winter.
- Muhly Grass tolerates drought and prefers to dry out in-between watering, especially if it's grown in a container.

More Facts
Height and width: 2-3 feet
Planting time: Ideally, early spring
Great for winter interest, naturalizing and tolerating dry spells in the landscape. Cut back in early spring, once the blades look tattered and worn. Propagate by division.
USDA Zones: 5-9

Personal Observations
I treat this perennial grass as an annual. It has been returning year-after-year in the Focal Garden, but I am also replacing a few here and there. Reason may simply be the soil needs more amendments or it gets too much water in the summer. When I balance how amazing this specimen looks this time of the year and that I may need to replace a few come spring it's easily worth it.

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