Muhlenbergia Capillaris [Mew-len-BERG-ee-ah, Kap-il-LAIR-iss] is a perennial ornamental grass plant in the Poaceae family.
It is a complete showstopper in any garden and is preferred by many gardeners due to its stunning pink plume color and undemanding nature.
This ornamental grass is native to the United States, Asia, and Mexico.
It is a popular choice for late-season color and works well in a landscape where fading summer annuals are growing.
The Garden Club of America voted it as the plant of the year in 2012.
The common names of this plant include:
- Pink Muhly Grass
- Hairawn Muhly
- Muhly Grass
- Gulf Muhly Grass
- Mist Grass
Pink Muhly Grass Plant Care
Size & Growth
This plant has erect dark green foliage until September and starts forming spectacular pink seed heads creating a cotton candy crown.
When it is planted in masses, it creates a stunning effect.
This plant is a warm-season ornamental grass, which means the leaves begin to grow during the summer season.
The leaves start with green color but turn into blue-green during the fall season.
The Pink Muhly Grass is a fast-growing plant and grows 2’ to 4’ feet high and spread 2’ to 4’ feet wide.
The leaves of this plant grow between 18” to 36” inches long.
Flowering and Fragrance
In late summer the fall season, this plant produces feathery flowers, which create a cloud-like appearance on top of the plant.
The inflorescences stay healthy until the end of fall.
The seed plumps of this plant make an excellent food source for the birds.
Light & Temperature
This American native plant thrives in both partial shade and full sun, as long as the conditions are dry and warm.
It will start wilting once the temperature starts dropping and will start flourishing with the arrival of warm weather.
These plants are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 6 through 9.
Watering and Feeding
This plant needs deep watering until they properly establish.
Make sure the soil is kept moist consistently without being soggy.
Afterward, they have drought tolerance, which means they need limited water.
However, the foliage and flowering will be profuse with sporadic supplemental irrigation during the drought periods.
Let the soil dry out between watering.
The plant doesn’t need plenty of fertilizer to thrive.
If you are hoping to get the pretty pink clouds in the fall, it is best to provide it with a slow-release fertilizer in the early spring season.
If the soil is rich, then there might not be a need for fertilizer.
Soil & Transplanting
This plant grows well in rocky or sandy, well-draining soil, but also tolerates poor soil and salt spray.
Provide the Muhly Grass with mildly acidic soil with a pH range between 5.5 and 6.8.
Grooming and Maintenance
Cut back the grass in late winter before new spring growth emerges. Make sure to leave the 3” to 4” inches of grass above the crown to protect the growing points.
When you are planting it in masses, allow sufficient space in between for proper air circulation to avoid the risk of tar spots.
If you are planting during the late summer or early fall season, be sure to plant a month before the first frost for easy overwintering.
Additionally, before the arrival of new growth in early spring, cut back the foliage to the ground in late winter.
How to Propagate Muhlenbergia Capillaris Plant
Propagate this plant by sowing the seeds in large pots or trays with high-quality potting soil or seed compost.
Be sure to sow the seeds thinly; otherwise, the seedlings might develop fungal diseases or grow very thinly.
Avoid covering the seeds with mulch or compost since the seeds need light for the germination process.
Instead, press the seeds tightly in the soil and keep them moist.
It is best to keep the temperatures between 60° to 68° degrees Fahrenheit (15° – 20° C).
The germination process usually takes two to four weeks to complete.
Once the seedlings appear, place the plant under direct sunlight until it establishes.
Transplant the seedlings in a small pot with gritty compost.
When it becomes a bushy plant, transfer it in the garden during the summer season.
Another attractive grass for the landscape is the purple fountain grass – Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’ with purple or burgundy leaf blades.
Muhlenbergia Capillaris Plant Pest or Diseases
The blooms of this plant might get infected by aphids during their early seed development stage.
The ideal way of tackling this problem is to increase the number of beneficial insects, like beetles and ladybugs.
The Pink Muhly Grass is also vulnerable to tar spots and rust.
Tar spots are a more serious issue and may result in severely damaging or killing the plant.
Make sure to have enough space between the plants to enhance the airflow and reduce the chances of this fungal disease.
Poor airflow and a high amount of moisture also lead to rust.
Thin out the clumps and stop watering to reduce the moisture.
This plant is also deer resistant.
Pink Muhly Grass Plant Uses
Being a drought-tolerant plant, it needs low maintenance once it establishes.
Therefore, it works well in home landscapes, golf courses, highway medians, steep banks, mass planting, cottage gardens, and as ground cover and borders.
The Muhly Grass is also utilized to prevent soil erosion, and it is an excellent source for wildlife cover, for instance, for shelter and nests for native birds.