Coastal Muhly GrassMuhlenbergia capillaris var. filipes
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Muhlenbergia capillaris var. filipes
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
Coastal Muhly Grass is a perennial clump-forming grass that has slender soft green leaves growing 2 to 3 feet tall. In late summer and fall it flowers, looking like a beautiful cloud of purplish-pink has descended on your garden. This stunning grass is very easy to grow and considered by many to be the most beautiful of all the ornamental grasses. It is native to America and can be grown in xeric plantings and natural areas. Mass-plant it in your beds or line a path with it. Plant on slopes or banks, in your garden or at a beach cottage.
Coastal Muhly Grass grows in all warmer zones in well-drained soil, including sandy areas. Once established it is very drought resistant and needs no attention to thrive and be beautiful. Cut back in late fall or late winter to about 4 inches for neatness, and that is it. Avoid wet areas and overcrowding – dryness and good air-circulation will keep it healthy and happy.
Ornamental grasses are among the most spectacular plants we grow in our gardens, and yet they are often also among the easiest to grow. There is a wide variety, in different sizes and colors, but many are exotic plants originating in other parts of the world, and in some parts of America they can be invasive. With the trend towards growing native plants it is perhaps strange that one of the most beautiful and spectacular of all the grasses comes from right here, and fits into even a purist’s native-only garden. Coastal Muhly Grass, sometimes called Pink Muhly or Gulf Muhly, is the name of this beauty, and when you see that shimmering cloud of pink hanging over it in fall you will instantly understand why it is so desirable. When you see it stand up to summer drought without any watering needed you will also see how reliable it is. The perfect foreground for shrub beds, or for growing among stones in a xeric landscape, this truly is one of the very best and colorful of ornamental grasses – and it is truly homegrown in every way.
Coastal Muhly Grass is a perennial flowering grass used ornamentally. It is non-invasive and forms a round clump of leaves rising about 3 feet above the ground. The long, slender leaves can be up to 4 feet long, and arch up and outwards forming a beautiful airy effect. The leaves are soft green with gray overtones, and they are rolled inwards into narrow tubes – a feature that is common in drought-resistant grasses. Over time the clump becomes larger and fuller, but doesn’t spread outwards or take over areas where you have planted it. In late summer and fall it blooms, and it is then it becomes a feature in your garden. Many slender stems sprout up to about 4 feet, carrying thousands of tiny grass flowers of a soft, pink color with a lilac blush. Like a shimmering cloud fluttering in the breeze or hanging in the calm of the day, this spectacular effect lasts for weeks. It adds an ethereal beauty to your garden that is unique, eye-catching and very, very beautiful indeed.
Resistant to drought once established, and growing best in dry places, Coastal Muhly Grass is perfect for all the sunny, dry places in your garden. Plant it in front of shrub beds, or among other drought-tolerant perennials. Grow it in a low-water or xeric garden, perhaps among boulders and gravel. Since it is salt-tolerant too it is ideal for coastal cottages and seashore gardens. Plant it along a path, or on a bank – there is nowhere this grass will not beautify. It is especially beautiful in group plantings, so arrange 3, 5 or more plants together, allowing about 18 inches between each plant.
Coastal Muhly Grass is hardy in warmer parts of the country, and can only tolerate limited winter cold. It can be grown in zone 8, and all warmer areas including southern California and southern Florida. It is fast-growing and can be grown as an annual grass in cooler areas. If you have a place to over-winter it, it could be planted in a pot and kept in colder zones for several years.
Full sun is ideal for Coastal Muhly Grass, but it will also grow with a little shade, perhaps a few hours in the afternoon. Too much shade will make growth weak, and it could also be too damp. It grows best in well-drained soils, and good drainage is very important. It will grow in poor, sandy soils, and in both acid and alkaline conditions, but not in places that are wet, especially if they are wet in winter. Choose slopes and higher places, and avoid low-lying areas, especially in zone 8. Not only is this grass drought resistant, it is also resistant to salt-spray and brackish water.
Generally free of pests or diseases, Coastal Muhly Grass is as easy to grow as it is beautiful. It’s only enemy is damp, so avoid those wet places, and when planting in groups don’t overcrowd them, as good air-circulation is a great defense against potential problems. In fall or late winter trim back to about 4 inches tall – cutting lower could damage growing points. Some people in hot areas just rake it out, removing older leaves without having to cut at all.
Coastal Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris var. filipes, is a botanical variety of Pink Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris. It is also called gulf hairawn muhly, dune hairgrass and purple muhly. Some botanists give a separate species name, as Muhlenbergia filipes. Apart from some technical botanical differences, the main difference is location – it grows all around the Gulf Coast, from Texas through Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and into North Carolina. Pink Muhly Grass can be found further inland but not on the coast. It is widely used in coastal reclamation and on sand-dunes in natural areas, but it is certainly more than beautiful enough to find a place in every garden where it can be grown.
This charming grass is truly beautiful, and truly worthy of a place in your garden. Use it in xeric planting, at the coast or anywhere at all. That wonderful pink-purple cloud is something you will truly enjoy. Even in a colder area you can enjoy it for a season – and that is worthwhile too. Order now – supplies are limited and this popular grass quickly sells out.