Growing Pink Muhly (Zone 8A)

KendraSchmidtJuly 4, 2012

I am hoping to grow Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia filipes), but I live on a hill away from a river and I'm in a zone 8a climate.

It can be very overcast here sometimes, especially in winter. Does this mean that I cannot grow Pink Muhly outdoors in the ground? Does it need a ton of bright sunlight? There is a lot of cloud cover where I live especially during winter and I don't know how that affects the plant.

Our lows are usually 14 degrees Fahrenheit (14F). Sometimes, it can get to 7 degrees fahrenheit, but those occasions are rare.

Can I still grow Pink Muhly? (Muhlenbergia filipes) Is there anyone growing Pink Muhly in similar circumstances, outdoors and in the ground with success?

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Muhlenbergia filipes is Purple Muhly, and is hardy to about 10ðF, so you're right at the cold end of its hardiness zone. If you mulch the plant well, and site it in the warmest part of your garden, you will probably be able to grow it.

Pink Muhly is Muhlenbergia capillaris, and it's hardy to much colder zones.

They both can be grown in full sun to partial shade. Cloud cover during winter makes no difference to either. They are dormant during winter, and don't need sun.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 3:51PM
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Thanks Donn, is there a difference between the two of them, other than the color? Maybe I could incorporate both, but I'm not sure what the difference is between the two of them . Maybe the color?

I believe it's the Purple Muhly I'd like to get my hands on. You mentioned mulching them in the winter. I read somewhere that I shouldn't mulch them. Is that safe? If so, can you recommend to me how I should mulch them or what the care process would be?

I appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 3:58PM
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The biggest difference is winter hardiness. Otherwise, they are about the same size, and have the same characteristics of habit and bloom. I can tell which is which from the bloom, but unless you look at them side-by-side, you probably couldn't. Pink is more pink, while Purple is magenta.

Ornamental grasses shouldn't have their crowns covered with mulch during their growing season, but when they're dormant, it can be helpful. During at least the first two winters, you would be wise to cut the grass back before the coldest season comes, and cover the crowns with several inches of coarse mulch, like wood chips. As soon as the coldest season has passed, uncover the crowns. If you have a very wet cold season, uncover them. I assume you don't have reliable snow cover, so this method of mulching tender grasses gives them good insulation.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 7:28PM
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Donn, thanks for this information. I'm pretty new to ornamental grasses and I'd like to incorporate a few at home.

I'm a bit intimidated with growing the Pink Muhly in a Zone 8a environment, so maybe I'll go with the Pink instead. I spotted a photo online. Can you please let me know if it looks like the Pink Muhly to you (colorwise)? I've noticed that the names are used interchangeably for the plants online for some reason:

There are also several images of what looks to be the same plant on this page:

The plant looks purple to me, but they're stating that it is Pink Muhly.

Here is a link that might be useful: Additional Pink Muhly Photos

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 11:03AM
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Everyone sees colors differently, and computer monitors represent them differently, but the picture you posted is definitely Pink Muhly ( M. capillaris).

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 4:15PM
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Okay, thank you Don for this information, I appreciate it.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2012 at 6:24AM
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Kendra are you located in the PNW? If so, I'd reconsider the pink muhly -- it simply hates our winters (far too wet). And not nearly hot enough here in summer. The few plants I've seen growing here are seldom able to bloom before cold weather hits.

If you want a pink flowered grass, I'd consider Pennisetum orientale 'Karely Rose'. Not the same type of inflorescense - a 'brush' rather than a 'cloud' - but a similar good strong color and a reliable performer in the PNW.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 6:02PM
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