Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Plant Review - Pink Muhly Grass

Many drought tolerant plants look great in the spring and summer but Pink Muhly waits until football season to put on its show. Starting in October, Pink Muhly does its autumn dance by blooming beautiful light pink inflorescences (stems with small seed pods).
Pink Muhly is a close relative of the California native Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), and loves full sun, but thankfully will also grow in part shade as long as it gets about 4 hours of sun per day.  This grass is very easy to grow and only needs to be trimmed once a year.  Reaching 3 feet tall and wide when blooming, the inflorescences are wonderful for floral arrangements.  
If you have poor draining soil, make sure to add a handful of garden gypsum to the bottom of the hole and then plant Pink Muhly so that the top 2 inches of the root ball is above the soil grade.  After planting, add a Best Pak on the side of the hole before backfilling the soil.  Best Paks are slow release fertilizer packets used by landscape contractors to help establish a new garden, and can be purchased at Miramar Wholesale Nursery or Hydroscape.  Top off the soil with 2-3 inches of mulch to finish the planting process.
          Here is a snapshot timeline for growing your Pink Muhly:
January – Add 2 handfuls of GroPower Plus fertilizer around the base of the plant. 
March – Add 5 BestPaks around the base of each plant.  You do not need to break up the packets, just bury them under your mulch.  For established plants, trim the grass down to your knees to encourage new growth in the summer.  This is the only time you will need to trim this grass.
October – Add 5 Best Paks around the base of each plant and get ready for a show that will last until Valentines Day.
          One last tip, to improve the impact of your garden, always group your plants together to form a mass.  In the photo above I did a mass of 5 Pink Muhly plants together to increase the wow factor for this client’s garden.

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