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Pink Muhly Grass: the Prettiest Native Grass!

If you are looking for a gorgeous ornamental grass that is native to much of the United States, look no further than Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris).

Ornamental bunch grasses are often underutilized in landscapes, but they can create magic in your garden!

Muhlenbergia capillaris pink cloud
The magical, ethereal look of Pink Muhly grass. Photo source: Canva.com

There are lots of beautiful native grasses, but this is the only one I know of that turns purplish pink. Even better, this grass puts on a show in October, when other plants in your garden are winding down.

I’ve incorporated several Pink Muhly grasses into my native garden, and I’m counting down the days until Fall!

What does Pink Muhly look like?

Muhlenbergia capillaris is a clumping grass that grows 2-3 feet tall and wide. The grass is green/brown most of the growing season.

Starting in September, it turns into a pink fluffy cloud! Its feathery seed heads take up half the plant, giving it an airy feel.

Muhly grass pink
The pink cloud shape of Muhlenbergia capillarias in the fall. Photo source: Canva.com.

5 Reasons to Grow Pink Muhly Grass

1. Pink Muhly is very easy to grow

This is not a fussy plant as long as you give it sun. It can take part sun, but performs best in full sun. It can tolerate a variety of soils from dry to moist.

It’s drought tolerant, but does like a little supplemental water in the hottest part of the summer. It’s also deer resistant.

2 It is a more compact alternative to other native prairie grasses

The Big Four prairie grasses (Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, and Switchgrass) can grow quite large.

However, Muhlenbergia capillarias only grows 2-4 feet tall and wide, making it the perfect grass to incorporate into a smaller garden bed.

3. Its seed heads provide a unique color and texture

I love when I can add unique color to the garden in ways other than blooms. In addition to its striking pinkish purple color, the seed heads provide a cool texture element to the garden.

Muhly pink grass
The beautiful seed heads make up half of the plant. Photo source: Canva.com

4. Pink Muhly is a fall showstopper for the garden

Having different seasonal interest is a recipe for a beautiful garden. Pair this grass with other fall bloomers like these Texas natives:

  • Mistflower
  • Fall Aster
  • Mealy Blue Sage
  • Gayfeather
  • Coneflower

5. It creates a striking contrast with other plants

Pair this soft and airy grass next to plants with sharp edges such as palms and agaves.

For a major statement, try planting Gulf Muhly in mass. It is especially pretty when backlit by the setting sun.

What are the other common names for Pink Muhly?

Many times, the same plant can go by a variety of different common names. In addition to Pink Muhly, other common names for this grass include Purple Muhly, Gulf Muhly and Cotton Candy Grass.

While plants can have many common names, they only have one scientific (Latin) name. The scientific name for this grass is Muhlenbergia capillaris.

Where is Muhlenbergia capillarias native to?

Even though one of its common names is Gulf Muhly grass, don’t let that confuse you. This grass is native to a large portion of the United States.

It is native to most of the Eastern half of the country to the Midwest, from Massachusetts down to Florida and west to Kansas. It grows well in Zones 6-10.

How do you maintain Muhly Grass?

This grass requires very little maintenance. There are a few options for keeping it looking great:

  1. At the end of winter you can rake out the dead stalks and and leaves stuck around the base.
  2. You can trim the grass occasionally but you don’t need to cut it back to the ground.
  3. Try using the “cord technique” to trim the brass by pulling it all into a high “ponytail” and then cutting off the top of the ponytail with a strong set of clippers.

How do you propagate Muhly Grass?

Pink Muhly Grass can be propagated by seed. Wait until after the pink color fades in November to collect the seeds. You can also divide up mature plants.

Common Pink Muhly Questions

Does Muhly Grass come back every year?

Yes! This beautiful grass is a perennial that once planted will provide beauty to your garden for years to come. It takes about three years for Pink Muhly to reach its mature size.

Does Pink Muhly need full sun?

Ideally, yes. Like most ornamental grasses, Muhly grass likes full sun. It can handle part sun but may not perform as well.

What does Pink Muhly grass look like in the winter?

Muhly grass will lose its pinkish purple color by the end of November and turn straw colored for the remainder of winter. It can still add interest to your garden and shelter for birds and other wildlife over the winter.

Is Pink Muhly grass invasive?

No, Muhlenbergia capillaris is not invasive. It is a clumping grass and does not self-seed readily and therefore does not spread easily.

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Muhly grasses

Pink Muhly Grass: PRINTABLE CARE GUIDE

Scientific Name:

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Native to:

Eastern U.S. - from MA south to FL and west to KS and TX.

Mature Height and Width:

2-4 ft. tall / 2-4 ft. wide

Sun Conditions:

Full sun to part sun

Water Needs:

Likes dry to moist well-drained soil. May need supplemental water during drought.

Wildlife Benefits:

Birds enjoy the seed heads. Provides shelter to wildlife.

Instructions

Watering

Prefers dry to moist, well drained soil. Provide supplemental water as needed during drought.

Pruning

Does not require cutting to the ground each season but you can prune tops off or rake out dead stalks and leaves at the end of winter. Don't prune in summer or it can impact its showy pink seedheads.

Propagating

Plant can be propagated by collecting seed heads in November or by dividing mature plants.

Notes

Grows well in zones 6-10. A fun addition to flower bouquets!

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