Gulf Muhly Grass
Host: Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
Gulf muhly grass is a native plant that really performs in the fall and winter months today on Southern Gardening.
This is the time of year I always look forward to when one of our native grasses starts to put on a show. The botanical name of Gulf muhly grass is Muhlenbergia capilaris, and was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion native plant winner in 2010. The grass flowers in the fall with billowy masses that resemble pink clouds in the landscape. We have a planting at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi that is truly gorgeous on any sunny fall morning. The sun coming up back lights the Gulf muhly grass and it seems to glow in the rich morning light. Select a landscape site that receives at least 6 hours of full sun during the day. Turn over the soil and work in at least three to four inches of quality compost. Always set the plant a little bit higher than the native grade of the landscape bed.
Spacing needs to be considered as these plants need their individual space. Each plant can grow up to four feet wide so plant on three foot centers. This will achieve that filled-in mass look.
Like all ornamental grasses there is really only one maintenance item that can’t be neglected. In late winter, cut the grass clumps back to six inches before the spring growth starts. This will clear the way for the new foliage and result in a nicely formed clump. Don’t be tempted to cut back any earlier because you will be removing the dry inflorescences that create movement with the wind and habitat for wildlife.
I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.