Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Puffy Purple Clouds of Muhly
How many plants are tolerant in drought situations as well as adaptable to flood areas? Muhlenbergia capillaris Muhly Grass is a tough Florida native that is useful in either situation.
And wow... it really packs a pretty punch in autumn.
Beginning in September purple-ish/pink-ish inflorescences shoot up about 12 inches above the stiff, upright greenery of the plant. Gradually, as the cloud-like plumes completely evolve, the result is an eye-catching display of movement and color.
You may remember the front lawn renovation project from July of 2009. Muhly grass was used to soften a hard 90 degree corner at the end of my lawn where my property line meets my neighbor's driveway.
Twenty 4-inch plants were sited at the time of the lawn removal and subsequent design.
In the beginning stages of any design it is oh, so difficult to imagine the fully mature plants. In this case those tiny starter Muhly plants would soon take up 3-4 feet in width and height at maturity. The original story of the design is here and here in case you care to read it in its detailed entirety.
View from the street
It's been fifteen (15) months since all those plants were planted. Over two hundred of them at the time. All quite small in size and many of them divided from existing plant-material located in the gardens.
A mixture of Florida-Friendly and Florida native plants were chosen to fill the space. All of them with little need for extra irrigation other than rainfall. The majority of them cold hardy for our Florida winters, including the Muhly grass which is evergreen.
Other than receiving a hard pruning in late winter the Muhly grass hasn't required any other maintenance. Using pruning shears it was cut back to about 6-8 inches in height.
View from my driveway looking towards the street.
The eastern sun makes its way through the oak trees offering filtered light on that side of the yard through mid-morning. Only the bottom corner, where the muhly grass is sited, receives 3-4 hours of full sunshine after that.
View from my neighbor's driveway side.
The ground is sloping slightly downward toward the street causing the soil to stay on the dry side as it drains quickly.
View from my driveway closer to the street.
Grouping plants together with similar watering needs and lighting requirements makes life a bit simpler for the gardener as success and lower maintenance is almost always the reward.
It would be nice to see Muhly grass used in more residential situations. The more the merrier planted together in drifts creates a brilliant autumn display.
I'm looking for more pockets of sunshine around here to enjoy more groupings of this easy-care native.