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Pink Hair Grass Muhlenbergia capillaris

Previously known as:

  • Podosemum capillare
  • Stipa capillaris
  • Trichochloa capillaris
Phonetic Spelling
mew-len-BERG-ee-ah kap-il-LAIR-iss
Description

Muhly grass is an absolute showstopper source of late-season color. As a native ornamental grass, it is a great complement to those landscape beds with fading summer annuals. The delicate plumes of flower panicles create a striking pink haze above the dark green, glossy foliage.

Muhly grass is native to the central and eastern parts of the United States and south to Mexico and Guatemala. This grass is found naturally in clay or thin rocky soils, especially in those soils that were formerly burned and prairie-like. They are also found in open woodlands, savannas, dry woodlands, and the mountains around rock outcrops. 

The genus, Muhlenbergia, was named after Gotthilf Muhlenberg, a botanist, chemist, and mineralogist. He is credited with classifying and naming at least 150 species of plants in his Index Flora Lancastriensis, published in 1785. He lived from 1753-1815. The specific epithet, capillaris, means fine or hair-like.

This perennial is attractive individually but makes a big show when used in a mass planting. Delicate pink flowers mature on long, narrow, wiry leaves in the fall. The grass produces tiny, purplish seeds. Pink muhly grass can reach a height of 4 feet and a width of 3 feet. Give it plenty of sunshine and transplant it into well-drained soil.

A North American native, pink muhly grass sounds too good to be true. Long-lived, with little to no insect or disease pests, and highly resistant to deer grazing, this ornamental grass is perfect for the low-maintenance garden. Muhly grass tolerates heat, humidity, drought, and poor soil and is highly salt tolerant. It is adaptable to home or commercial landscapes. Plant in groups or masses for fall season color.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Fall        Foliage: Summer and Fall

Quick ID Hints:

  • clumping warm-season perennial grass
  • wiry, thread-like, dark green leaves and stems from 2 to 3 feet tall
  • pink to pinkish-red, airy, open blooms appear to float above the foliage in the fall
  • tan seed plumes add winter interest

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Muhly grass had no serious insects or disease issues.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

 

 

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Children's Secret Garden- Wilson Botanical Gardens Lake Wall Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Lenca'
  • 'Pink Flamingo'
  • 'Regal Mist"'
  • 'White Cloud'
    Upright, open, airy white flowers, bloom after pink, resistant to tar spot
'Lenca', 'Pink Flamingo', 'Regal Mist"', 'White Cloud'
Tags:
#wildlife plant#salt tolerant#cover plant#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#ornamental grass#mass planting#small mammals#ncemgva2018#food source wildlife#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#NC native#deer resistant#showstopper#native ornamental grass#larval host plant#maze#food source fall#flowers late summer#food source herbage#Coastal FAC#native sedge#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#Piedmont Mountains FACU#flowers early fall#flowers mid-fall#Audubon#coastal plant#food source winter#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Lenca'
  • 'Pink Flamingo'
  • 'Regal Mist"'
  • 'White Cloud'
    Upright, open, airy white flowers, bloom after pink, resistant to tar spot
'Lenca', 'Pink Flamingo', 'Regal Mist"', 'White Cloud'
Tags:
#wildlife plant#salt tolerant#cover plant#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#ornamental grass#mass planting#small mammals#ncemgva2018#food source wildlife#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#NC native#deer resistant#showstopper#native ornamental grass#larval host plant#maze#food source fall#flowers late summer#food source herbage#Coastal FAC#native sedge#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#Piedmont Mountains FACU#flowers early fall#flowers mid-fall#Audubon#coastal plant#food source winter#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Muhlenbergia
    Species:
    capillaris
    Family:
    Poaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & Eastern U.S.A. to Guatemala and Caribbean
    Distribution:
    United States: AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, and WV; Bahamas, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.
    Wildlife Value:
    Provides excellent cover year-round. Seeds are eaten by songbirds and small mammals. Attracts butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 4 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Ornamental Grasses and Sedges
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Mounding
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Caryopsis
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Seed is in the form of grain, and the tan seed plumes are attractive through the winter. The seed fruits are inconspicuous, small, dry, hard, oval, and available from September through November.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Airy inflorescence often colored pink, purplish red, or purplish gray; dries to a light buff; up to 12 inches long. Flowers bloom from September through November.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are green, linear, simple, alternate, and measure 18 to 36 inches long with entire margins. Fine-textured basal foliage
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Container
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Riparian
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Deer
    Drought
    Erosion
    Heat
    Humidity
    Pollution
    Poor Soil
    Salt