Also known as Gulf muhlygrass or mist grass, muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is a clumping ornamental grass characterized by delicate, pinkish purple flowers. The native grass is tolerant of a wide range of cultural conditions and grows with little to no special care. Muhly grass is easily propagated by division or seed.
Muhly grass is a clump-forming perennial that grows 3 to 4 feet tall, with a similar spread. The wiry stems and leaves of the grass are topped with a purplish pink or pure pink inflorescence that is about 18 inches long and 10 inches wide. The inflorescence has a silky, light texture, and lasts for six to eight weeks in late summer. These are followed by wispy tan seed heads.
Muhly grass hails from eastern North America, where it grows from Kansas down to Florida, Texas and Mexico. The plant also grows naturally in the West Indies. Muhly grass occurs in beach dunes and sand hill communities, as well as wet prairies, savannas and upland pine forests. Muhly grass is a suitable landscape plant for USDA hardiness zones 6 to 10, where it will grow in full sunlight or light shade.
Muhly grass is tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions. The grass is not picky about soil pH and will grow in acidic soils as well as alkaline soils. The ideal soil for muhly grass is rocky or sandy. The grass is also highly tolerant of the salty soils found in coastal regions. Water deeply and regularly until the grass is established. Once established, muhly grass requires little supplemental watering. Divide every two to three years to enhance plant vigor.
Muhly grass is an adaptable, versatile plant that offers fine texture and mass to the landscape. The low-maintenance plant may be used in the home garden or as a street median or roadside shoulder plant. Use in a border or bed to accent showier plants, or utilize as a ground cover in a dry, sandy area where few other plants can survive. Removing dead foliage helps to keep the plant looking attractive.