Thursday, October 21, 2010

Morning Glow

We're not really morning people in My Florida Backyard - evenings are more our speed. However, some mornings are worth getting up for, and this was one of them. The soft haze and filtered light brought an almost unearthly glow to the blooms of our favorite Florida fall foliage - the Muhly Grass.

If you're a fan of ornamental grasses, Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is one you simply must have. A foolproof Florida native, Muhly Grass is green and full most of the year, drought-tolerant and happy in full sun or part shade. For about six weeks each fall, though, Muhly Grass puts on an amazing display as it goes to seed.

Some would argue that these seed fronds are pink, and in fact this species is commonly called Pink Muhly Grass. However, an up-close look reveals that the true fall color of this plant is purple.

This is a very overlooked Florida native that should be more readily available outside native plant nurseries. You'll find it planted in medians and even parking lot dividers at places like Lowe's, but the big box nurseries are more likely to offer fountain grass species (Pennisetum) instead, some of which are beginning to appear on the invasive plant lists.

Muhly Grass is wonderful for wildlife. Planted in groupings, it creates shelter for small creatures including butterflies, who like to hang from grasses in a rainstorm or at night for protection. Songbirds love the seeds produced in the fall, and may even pluck dead stems to use in building their nests.

Muhly Grass gives us reason after reason to fall in love with it season after season. Every year, we await the "purpling of the Muhly Grass" with delight, knowing that in My Florida Backyard, it represents the very best Florida has to offer in the fall.


  1. We tried to find this last year, or earlier this year and no one had it around here. Does it grow from seed?

    We have seen this in fields and it is always pretty, especially with the sun hitting it.

    Enjoy the loveliness of your wonderful backyard, with it's peaceful view.


  2. Muhly grass is beautiful when backlit by the sun. It's definitely one of my favorites!

  3. FlowerLady - Try looking at a native plant nursery - visit to find one in your area.