Lindheimer’s Muhly, Muhlenbergia lindheimeri: Perennial large grass with fine silvery autumn flowers
Description: Lindheimer's Muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri), also called Big Muhly, is native to the Edward's Plateau in central Texas. It is a large fountain-like bunchgrass reaching 2-5 ft tall at maturity with light grey-green to blue-green leaves that are soft to the touch. The species is named after Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879) considered by many to be the father of Texas botany. The genus is named after Henry Muhlenberg, an accomplished botanist and scientist from the late 1700's.
Flowers and Seeds: Lindheimer's Muhly blooms in autumn, producing 6 to 18 inch panicles of silvery-white flowers; afterwards seed heads extend above the foliage in winter. Seed may be collected in December for plant propagation.
Planting sites: While Lindheimer's Muhly may tolerate partial sun, it thrives in full sun. It does best in slightly alkaline to alkaline soils and needs good drainage.
Watering Instructions: Like many Texas natives, Lindheimer's Muhly may need supplemental water during its first growing season. After it is established, it will thrive with existing rainfall. It is drought tolerant.
Comments: Lindheimer's Muhly is valuable as an accent grass in full sun. It is a smoother-textured soft grass that can be used as a screen, instead of non-native large rough-leaved grasses like Pampas grass. After a spectacular fall display of feathery blooms, Lindheimer's Muhly's seed plumes and leaves persist throughout the winter. Even though it is mostly dormant during the winter, cutting it can slow the plant down from its new growth in the spring, so don't cut it back until new spring growth appears. To keep it neat looking during the winter, it is better to use a rake to comb the plant for dead leaves and break off old flower stalks as they become brittle. Lindheimer's Muhly's long slender leaves are used by birds for nesting material. It is deer resistant.
Look for the NICE! Plant of the Season signs and information sheets on your next visit to a participating North Texas nursery. Thank you for using native plants in your landscapes.
Written by Dr. Becca Dickstein
Zexmenia, Wedelia texana: Perennial yellow blooms from spring through fall in sun or partial shade
Description: Zexmenia (Wedelia texana, formerly Zexmenia hispida), also called Orange Zexmenia is a perennial native to central and west Texas south to Mexico. Although this member of the daisy family is evergreen in the southern part of its range, in north Texas, it dies back to the ground each winter. Zexmenia usually reaches 1.5 to 2 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide, although specimens can reach 3 feet tall. It has 2 to 3 inch long, narrow ovate/lanceolate gray-green leaves that are rough to the touch. The leaves may be coarsely toothed or slightly lobed. In full sun, Zexmenia is upright; if planted in partial shade, it may recline like a ground cover. Zexmenia can be propagated by cuttings or by seed.
Flowers and Seeds: Zexmenia has 1 to 1.5 inch yellow-orange composite flowers from late April though November. The seeds are similar to sunflower seeds, but much smaller.
Planting sites: Zexmenia should be planted in sun or partial to dappled shade. It can also grow in shade, but it will not flower as much. Zexmenia is adaptable to most soils as long as it has good drainage.
Watering Instructions: Like many Texas natives, Zexmenia may need supplemental water during its first growing season. After it is established, it will thrive on existing rainfall and is very drought tolerant.
Comments: Zexmenia is dependable for summer color and is easy to maintain. It is a larval host for the Bordered Patch butterfly and attracts other butterflies. Birds eat its seeds. The rough leaves make it deer and grasshopper resistant. Consider planting Zexmenia as a tall ground cover or in mass instead of Asian jasmine, English ivy or vinca. It also works well in a border by itself or with other native yellow-flowering perennials like sundrops (Calylophus), lance-leaf coreopsis and Missouri primrose or with purple-blooming Texas natives like prairie verbena. Zexmenia may be pruned to about half its height by July to re-shape it or for fuller growth, but this is not necessary. In winter, cut it back to the ground.
Written by Dr. Becca Dickstein