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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

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.

Native Lantana
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.


  1. This pink cloud is a welcome sight in the garden. I wish it would live here.

  2. I definitely want to get some of this for the garden. It looks almost like a pink sprinkler going off! It's wonderful to see the befores and afters. daisy

  3. We tried to find the purple muhly grass awhile back and no one had it, so I gave up. It is beautiful and looks oh so wonderful in your gardens.

    Your gardens are always a vision of delight.


  4. I don't know Meems. I'm thinking you should put out a Garden Calendar. Your garden pictures are spectacular. I really like the variety of plants you have.

  5. OMG Meems how stunningly beautiful! I wonder if the muhly grass would grow here? Are seeds easily available?

  6. Meems: Love to see the before and after pictures. It really shows the big impact of a good design! Although my garden doesn't allow me to plant in big mass like yours, but I so much like the stunning effect this big group of muhly grasses created. PRETTY!!!

  7. That muhly grass certainly adds drama to that corner. I can't believe how much your "new" front bed has grown! It looks wonderful. Your soil must be nutrient rich. Hmm...I think I'll work on soil amendment this coming year. I always come away from here with IDEAS.

  8. Muhly grass takes your garden up yet another notch as a beautiful place to experience and an example of how beautiful gardens can be with very little extra water applied only as needed. The rooms and vistas you have created in a Florida Friendly way make your garden the best example I have seen of using all 9 principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping. You are truly a teacher with a passion and talent. Thanks for sharing your art and wisdom with the world.

  9. Muhly grass is so striking in bloom! My son had a bunch on his property growing wild, but most of it was mowed down in prep for horse pastures. (I guess I should've dug some up.) What an amazing transformation from summer of 2009! Just one year! I love the rock edging on your border. I had lined some of my perennial beds with similar rocks up in Atlanta, adding to the length every time I dug one up. Here, I've yet to dig up a single rock. How did you come by yours?

  10. Lisa,
    Oh, but there are so many othere wonderful grasses that grow in your zone. I suppose this one is particularly showy for our climate.

    Yes, this is a perfect plant for your sunny garden.

    Many Home Depots carry muhly. You might want to try again... Thank you for the sweet words... I like "vision of delight".

    So nice to see you here. Garden Calendar???hmmm... I've done it for myself/family in the past but maybe I should think beyond that... thanks.

    It is hardy to zone 11... I've read where it propogates by seed or division. Will have to check for seeds...Probably ready around December 5 ~~*BIG grin*

  11. Ami,
    Thank you, sweet Ami, for your kind words. I hope you are doing well.

    In smaller gardens/areas sometimes it is a good idea to plant parts of it with a larger number of like-plants. It fools the eye into thinking the garden is larger than it really is and adds an element of consistency.

    Pictures really tell the story... even to ME. I would never have thought it would have grown that fast.

    Sunshine and Florida heat = fast growth. Drama! I like that... ONLY in a garden that is.

    Thank YOU for always being a good cheerleader of the Florida-Friendly principles! They are great guidelines I realized I was following even before I actually knew they existed. Instinct and common sense I suppose.

    But the great thing is they can implemented by any gardener. I want to shout that from the mountain tops. Practicing them equals success in our climate. But now I'm preaching to the choir. :-)

    Oh, yes, wouldn't that have been nice to just dig it up and create a purple haze in your garden! These types of natural stones are definitely lacking in Florida. I drive to Zephyrhills for this kind. They are for sale at a rock nursery there. Always available for $$$$$.

  12. meems, It's stunning! I completely forgot you planted it last year! It's a true testament to year round gardening that it has grown and bloomed so beautifully. Good news about it taking flood...I've planted it in my garden and occasionally we do get lots of rain.

  13. meems,

    the purple muhly grass it really making a show of it. i love the close up of the texture of it. your front renovation as added so much to the character of your yard and the depth of the front yard. love it.
    happy autumn.

  14. What a successful project! Mass plantings that give you so much impact! Congratulations!

  15. Oh, if only I could grow muhly grass. It is so beautiful in the light. Great photos.

  16. How've given me hope for my Muhly grass I planted last year! I only had room for 3, and they are blooming now, although not as full as yours...but your pics give me hope!

  17. Beautiful!

    I'd like to invite you to join a garden blog game. The rules are:
    1.Inform who invited you
    2.List 10 things you like to do
    3.Invite another 10 bloggers to do the same.
    I hope you enjoy it.

  18. I apologize. I didn't leave my blog name or URL in my invite for the blog game. It is:

    Garden Sense at

  19. Your Muhly grasses are gorgeous!! Mine have just exploded too, and I'll soon have pics up on my site. The variety I have is called 'Regal Mist.' I have found in my Texas garden that this particular muhly likes a little bit more water than some grasses. Had the perfect spot for it. Ornamental grasses give us so much bang for the buck! Hard to beat!!

  20. Hi Meems, My Muhly is just starting to fan out. I'm so excited. Last year it was a baby. Yours are fabulous. [Btw, I haven't forgotten.]

  21. Hi Meems...Our neighbor down the road has a couple of clumps of muhly and I love how they look when the sun shines on them. They are so soft and fluffy looking.

  22. Wonderful! I love before and after pictures. And I love Muhly! I appreciate your strong sense of design. (Actually, I envy it...)

  23. Meems, It is always so interesting to read your blog, you are a teacher like Rick Brown said thank you for sharing with us. Janis

  24. Gail,
    Hopefully you won't getany more flooding... just some nice rain would be welcomed at this point I think.

    Up close it is almost is so light and airy but concentrated appears deeper in color. Very unique.

    Even I have been surprised at its growth and profuse blooming in its (only) second year.

    Hi Pat,
    It is a grass for the southeastern states but remarkably it does well along the beaches, too.

    Try cutting them back in February. It doesn't take long at all for the evergreen spikesto reappear.

    I won't make any promises about joining as I am not usually very good about memes. But I appreciate you thinking of me.

    Texas has more choices (in my opinion) of great grasses. The beauty of this one ~ other than those plumes of purple ~~ is very little need for water. Thank you for visiting.

  25. Grace,
    You make me smile. We both had babies of muhly last year!(btw~ no problem).

    With each phase of the day those soft and fluffy clouds take on new elements. Very fun to enjoy for autumn.

    What a nice thing to say... design is definitely what inspires me. Aren't before and after pictures 'so telling'.

    Every garden is unique and full of its own character. As yours is and I love it! *hugs* to you, dear friend.

  26. The muhly grass is quite something isn't it? It looks like little specks of pink fairy dusts!


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway