The muhly grass is an herbaceous grass named after Gotthif Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg, a Lutheran minister in Pennsylvania noted for his contributions to the field of botany. This grass is a native of Florida, Massachusetts, and Texas in the United States. Scientifically known as Muhlenbergia capillaris, some of its other names are regal mist, gulf muhly, and purple muhly. The muhly grass is considered to be very hardy and low-maintenance and can survive water, soil, and weather fluctuations moderately well. This ornamental grass grows in clumps on rocky and sandy ground and produces a curtain of pinkish-purple flowers in late spring or early fall.
This hardy grass grows to a height of about 3 to 5 feet (0.9 to 1.5 m) and has a spread of 2 to 3 feet (0.3 to 0.9 m) wide. Its flowers add another 1 to 2 feet (0.3 to 0.6 m) to its height during late spring or early autumn. Each clump of muhly grass spreads upward into a fanning V-shape when fully grown. The grass also produces fruits that are brown and oval, but are not as noticeable as the grass’s flowers.
Muhly grass thrives on well-drained sandy or rocky soil and grows in full sun or partially shaded areas. Despite its high tolerance to heat, it is still best watered on a regular basis, especially when newly planted. Newly planted grasses need to establish their roots to be healthy and long-lasting. Muhly grass can also tolerate flooding and survive temperatures around 0 °F (-18 °C).
When planting muhly grass, the gardener should typically plant clumps of the grass about 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 m) apart from one another. The spaces between the clumps allow each plant to grow to maturity without overcrowding. This plant must be pruned as close to the ground as possible to remove dead plant tissue and to encourage the growth of new ones. Pruning should be done when the withering process starts to take place.
Some people use muhly grass as a garden accent and to add interest to otherwise barren areas of land. The plant colors are especially highlighted during early mornings and evenings, when soft light sifts through its flowers, making the entire plant look like a mist of soft purples and pinks. Muhly grass is often paired with evergreens, which contrast with its light color, and other ornamental grasses and plants.