Sunday, November 30, 2014

My favorite plant in November is Muhlenbergia capillaris

When it comes to native grasses in a Texas garden it's hard to beat the muhly family.  Many of them are native to Texas or nearby areas and they seem to thrive in our hot, dry summers and freezing winters.  I'm linking with Loree at Danger Garden to feature my favorite plant for November.  All during the year the muhly grasses provide a green, grassy anchor throughout the garden but it is in the fall when they truly command the most attention.  The Muhlenbergia capillaris aka Pink Muhly along the driveway are November standouts in the garden.

Out near the street this stand of cotton-candy puffs wave at passersby during November.

They do a great job catching the light at sunset

When combined with Color Guard Yucca it's a bright contrast.

This analogous color combination works with purple blooming Salvia leucantha or Mexican Bush Sage--an idea copied from a professional landscape installed nearby.

The plants shown above near the street were large 3 gallon size when planted so they have taken off in the last three years.  The pink muhly running the length alongside the Silverado Sage were planted in quart sizes a year later and are still filling in.  Next year these should catch up and produce a 100 foot cloud of pink.

They may be small but they are pretty cool at sunset too

Like all the native ornamental grasses in my garden, these are absolutely deer proof.  The deer completely ignore them which is why I have so many!  Also known as Gulf Muhly, these are primarily coastal grasses so they need more water than the inland native Lindheimer muhly to get established.   It's especially important to give them plenty of water in the spring when the new growth appears.  Full sun is a must.  This group along the east-west axis and southside of the driveway get full all-day sun most of the summer.  I had a few in afternoon shade and they never bloomed until moved to this location.  The inflorescense turns a tawny brown in late fall and I leave them in place until February.  I cut them back to about 4" every other year before the new growth appears.

The details:

Hardiness:  Zone 7-11
Full Sun
Height to 3 feet
Well drained soil and low to moderate water
Deer proof!

You can find bloggers sharing their favorite plants for November at Danger Garden.


  1. I love the Muhly grasses! That Color Guard Yucca/Muhly combination is stunning! Very lovely photos at the end with the sun shining through.

  2. 100 ft cloud of pink! That sounds fabulous. Pretty sure these were the pink-blooming grass I was admiring at the Kennedy School the other week. Such a nice contrast in a sea of brown and green.

  3. It's very beautiful and graceful looking with their delicate looking plumes. En masse like that and catching the light, lovely!

  4. Those are incredible!! I know why the Gulf muhly is your favorite--how could it not be?? I love them, though I haven't had much luck with growing them in my garden. I don't quite have enough sun. I'll enjoy yours.

  5. I too especially admire that photo at the last with the sun shining through. Breath taking. That phrase "100 foot cloud of pink"...I am lost in admiration even at the prospect.

    Thanks for the advice about the extra watering in Spring. I don't have many sunny areas to offer but am considering taking out a large century plant to be replaced by a pink muhly. The cold resistance combined with deer leaving it be, is a hard combination to beat, even without that pink cloud to look forward to.

  6. Hi Shirley,

    Just came across you while researching Mimosa dysocarpa for What a gorgeous blog. I love how you organize the information. I see my pals with Loree, Peter H, Mark & Gaz, Alison, et al already know you. I never get up early enough to scoop them. It'll be fun to read through your past post.

    Did you by chance come to the Bloggers' Fling in Portland? I wasn't officially involved--just at Loree's garden when everyone visited. That was a great day.

    1. Thank you Patricia, I'm glad you are enjoying my posts. I didn't attend the fling in Portland though I would very much have enjoyed meeting all those PNW bloggers I have met through blogging.

      Plantlust is a beautiful site that I have referenced a number of times in my plant hunts. I know Loree put out a call for plantlust photos a while back and I'll contact you about that.

  7. Beautiful when they are backlit.

    I set mine on fire instead of cutting back.

    1. Oh dear that wouldn't be possible since due to drought we have had an outdoor fire ban in place for much of the last five years. I know it works though.

  8. I dream of mine some day looking that good. You have worked them into other plantings masterfully.

  9. One of my favorites, too. Looking great in your driveway plantings...intricate and inspiring.

  10. I love this grass but harbored the apparently mistaken impression that they wouldn't grow here. However, they've popped up in local nurseries recently and, driving home one day, I came across a roadway median planted with a mass of them. It was breathtaking!

  11. Very nice. They are easy to overlook for much of the year, but you cannot ignore them when they are in bloom.


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