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Pine Muhly

Muhlenbergia species

Pine muhly has another common name that speaks to its appearance—hairgrass. The fine blades of this ornamental grass unite to be reminiscent of a windblown casual hairdo. Native to western North America, pine muhly tolerates drought and thrives in well-drained soil. Plant this easy-to-grow perennial grass in large drifts for year-round texture and movement in the landscape. Several varieties boast colorful, airy flowers that dance over the arching foliage for weeks in late summer and fall. The white, pink, and red-tinged flowers eventually turn tawny brown and decorate the garden through winter.

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

1 to 3 feet

Width:

2 to 3 feet wide

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Zones:

5-9

Pine Muhly

Planting Pine Muhly

Play off of pine muhly's light and airy appearance when choosing planting partners for this clump-forming grass. Sedums and plants with succulent foliage, such as creeping shrubby ice plant and agaves, make delightful contrasting plant partners. Pine muhly is an excellent plant for adding whimsy and soft texture to large swaths of hardscaping, such an expansive stone patio or driveway. Plant a large collection of pine muhly near the edge of a hard surface to add airy texture year-round. Pine muhly is a great plant for contemporary landscapes as it does not spread by runners and can be planted in a geometric pattern.

Check out some of our favorite ornamental grasses here.

Pine Muhly Care

Pine muhly grows best in sandy to rocky soil that is well-drained. It thrives in full sun but will tolerate part shade, although it does not grow as tall in part shade. Pine muhly tolerates heat, humidity, and drought. A great plant for rock gardens and the desert Southwest, pine muhly has excellent deer resistance and is a long-lived grass.

Plant pine muhly in spring. Like most ornamental grasses, pine muhly is most attractive when planted in large swaths of 10 or more plants. A large stand of pine muhly makes a big impact in the landscape and is a low-maintenance planting that provides interest year-round. It is especially striking in late summer and fall when the its flower spikes debut. Cut pine muhly back as needed in early spring before new growth begins.

Learn the top deer-resistant plants for your region.

New Innovations

Plant breeders have selected several forms of pine muhly that sport colorful late summer and fall flower spikes. Plant clusters of these late season flowering plants throughout the landscape for a burst of color and interest when annuals and perennials are beginning to fade.

More Varieties of Pine Muhly

Bamboo muhly

Muhlenbergia dumosa offers a fluffy look and is the perfect textural contrast to coarser plants. A North American native, it grows 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 7-10

Gulf muhly

Also called hairgrass or pink muhly, this North American native grass puts on a show with its pink seed heads. It grows 3 feet tall and wide. Zones 6-10

Pine muhly

Muhlenbergia dubia is a low-water, North American native ornamental grass that offers great texture. It grows 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Zones 6-10

'White Cloud' muhly

This variety is a showy, deer-resistant selection that offers a lovely display of white flowers from mid-autumn to early winter. It grows 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 6-10

Plant Pine Muhly With:

Agave
Among the most architectural plants, agaves feature bold succulent leaves that set the tone for wherever they're planted. They're incredibly heat- and drought-tolerant and most are long-lived. Many varieties bear sharp spines along leave margins and at the leaf tip, which adds to their dramatic presentation. The bluish-green rosettes naturally spread by producing offsets at the base of the plant. It is an excellent choice for sunny, hot, dry areas, especially desert regions, with good drainage.
Penstemon
This North American native plant has a home in nearly every garden with flowers that hummingbirds love. Long blooming with brilliantly colored, tubular flowers, penstemons -- ironically -- have been a staple in European gardens for decades.There are many different penstemon types. The leaves are lance-shape or oval, sometimes purple-red as in 'Husker Red'. Some Western species need outstanding drainage to dry conditions and won't thrive during wet weather. However, many, such as 'Husker Red', thrive in a wide variety of conditions. Just be sure to provide excellent drainage. Mulch in areas where a type is marginally hardy.
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