Plant This: Gulf muhly grass

Southern gardeners, are you growing Gulf muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)? Autumn is its cotton-candy bloom time, and it’s an unforgettable sight.

From a distance you see a pinkish-purple haze floating above deep-green foliage. (That’s purple fountain grass in the foreground.)

Come closer and the splendor of this native Texas grass is revealed.

A small-to-medium-sized clumping grass at about 2 feet tall and wide (3 feet tall in bloom), it pairs well with the purple-tinged foliage of Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’ and the bright yellow-and-green stripes of ‘Color Guard’ yucca.

Or try it with Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha), orange lantana, and dwarf firebush (Hamelia Patens ‘Compacta’) for a spectacular fall display.

The fuchsia flowers of Autumn sage (Salvia greggii) also look great beside it.

Really, what doesn’t? Just give it plenty of sun and an occasional deep soaking in the summer.

I can’t resist showing this closeup of the inflorescence of Gulf muhly’s kissing cousin, ‘Pink Flamingos’ muhly—like a pink sparkler on the 4th of July.

Celebrate fall by planting a few pink muhly grasses. You can’t help but see the world through a rose-colored fog when these are blooming.

Note: My Plant This posts are written primarily for gardeners in central Texas. The plants I recommend are ones I’ve grown myself and have direct experience with. I wish I could provide more information about how these plants might perform in other parts of the country, but gardening knowledge is local. Consider checking your local online gardening forums to see if a particular plant might work in your region.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

3 Responses

  1. Scott Weber says:

    Love Muhly stunning…although I need to move mine where it actually gets sun while blooming!

    That is the key to really enjoying Gulf muhly—seeing the morning or evening sun shining through the pink flowers. —Pam

  2. Cat says:

    Hi Pam,

    I love your blog & have got so much inspiration from it over the past year!! I live in Austin (chilly today!) and have recently cleared out my entire front yard. I would love to put in the Gulf Muhly and the purple fountain grass in the front of my house near the windows now, but I wanted to check with you to get your thoughts on planting them this late. Do you think it is too late to plant this time of year? I know it is not ideal, but would love to get something in to make the front look better. Would love your recommendations!!

    Hi, Cat. Thanks for reading and your kind compliment! Despite the chilly temperatures, it’s actually a fine time to plant the Gulf muhly grass. It won’t look like much this winter, but it’ll perk up in the spring. Be sure to water it, especially if this dry spell continues. As for the purple fountain grass, it’s an annual (one year only) in our climate (except in extremely mild winters), so don’t buy it or plant it now. Wait until all danger of frost is past in the spring and then plant. It’ll put on a great show through the following fall. —Pam

  3. Cat says:

    Thanks so much for the feedback, Pam! That makes me so excited and i’m going to plant the grass this week! Also, thanks for the tip on the purple fountain grass, I wasn’t aware that it was an annual, probably because I just see them all around town and figured people wouldn’t plant it so much! Can’t wait to read more! Have a great day and holidays!