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Common Name:

Muhly Grasses

Scientific Name:

Muhlenbergia spp.

Family Name:

Poaceae (Gramineae)


Muhly Grasses are a group of ornamental grasses which can serve as good native substitutes for exotic grasses, such as Miscanthus spp. Four species, M. lindheimeri (Lindheimer Muhly), M. capillaris (Gulf Muhly), M. dumosa (Bamboo Muhly), and M. rigens (Deergrass), are the principal species in the trade. They offer excellent drought and heat tolerances, interesting textures, and in some cases attractive flowers. Muhlenbergia capillaris has fine textured foliage and purple flowers. Muhlenbergia dumosa offers a growth form reminiscent of a small bamboo, while M. rigens and M. lindheimeri offer more rigid foliage and flower panicles. Most species require good drainage and perform better in regions with moderate to low rainfall. Cold tolerance varies from USDA zones 6 to 8 and most species can survive the heat of zones 9 or 10. Most are herbaceous perennials that die to the ground in winter, but some species may remain evergreen or semi-evergreen in warmer climates.

Plant Habit or Use:

Perennial, grasses


sun, partial sun

Flower Color:

White to purple, panicles in summer to fall.

Blooming Period:

Summer, fall

Fruit Characteristics:

Panicles of small grain-like seeds, sometimes effective into winter.


Variable by species, 2 ft to 5 ft (6 ft)


3 ft to 6 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Non-Defined Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Non-Defined Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Non-Defined Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Non-Defined Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Non-Defined Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

USDA Hardiness Zones:

6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas Region H - Rio Grande Valley
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Not bothered by much diseases or insects, but may be prone to root/crown rots in poorly drained sites and constant high relative humidity.
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A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.