Even a dedicated gardener appreciates a plant that needs little attention to look good all season. Lindheimer's muhly grass (Muhlenbergia linheimeri) is a perennial ornamental grass that produces a lush clump of narrow-leaf, blue-green foliage from 2 to 5 feet tall, which sends up tall panicles that start creamy pink, lighten to white and dry to tan over the winter. The plant is suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10. It only needs pruning once a year, to every other year, depending on your climate.
Lindberger's Muhly Culture
Lindheimer's muhly grass planted in full sun to light shade in fall or spring soon expands to form a clump 1 to 3 feet wide. The Texas native is drought tolerant once established and blooms from late spring through fall. Leave the foliage and the bloom spike standing through winter to provide seed and shelter for overwintering birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
Late Winter Pruning
Late winter, before new shoots begin to push through old, tan foliage is the time to prune Lindheimer's muhly grass. Stalks should be cut to about 14 inches high, parallel to the ground, all the way across with sturdy hedge shears. Disinfect shears before and after pruning with a solution of alcohol and water to avoid spreading disease. Lindheimer's muhly can be slow to grow back if you cut it to a few inches above the ground as is common with ornamental grasses. Depending on how large your plants are, a little prep work before you start can save you a big cleanup. Holding all the stalks upright and wrapping them from the center up in masking tape or twine makes cutting and haul away a breeze.
Every Other Year
Lindheimer's muhly is semi-evergreen. This means it ranges from fully dormant, dead foliage each winter at the low end of its hardiness range to having foliage that stays green year-round in frost-free areas. When your Lindheimer's muhly grass is green all winter, you can get by with just clearing out the dead flower stalks, which will go tan and look dry by late fall. Combing through the plants while wearing gloves with rubberized palms or with a leaf rake removes dead foliage and old flowering stalks, technically called inflorescences, to give the plant a neat look for the new growing season. Cut back every other year, just to refresh the plant.
A Little Late
Late winter to early spring can be a busy time in the garden. When your Lindheimer's muhly grass needs a trim, but starts to put on new growth before you manage to get your shears out of the shed, you're not stuck looking at tatty old growth all year. Careful cutting above the tips of the new shoots gives the plant a fresh look going into late spring and summer.
- Fine Gardening: Muhlenbergia Lindheimeri
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Native Plant Database -- Muhlenbergia Lindheimeri
- Central Texas Gardener: Question of the Week -- When Should I Prune Clumping Grasses?
- Mississippi State University Extension: Muhly Grasses Offer Dazzling Fall Display
- Royal Horticultural Society: Ornamental Grasses -- Cutting Back
- The Colorado Springs Gazette: Ornamental Grasses Need Cutting Back
- North Coast Gardening: Ornamental Grasses: How to Prune Miscanthus, Stipa, and More
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