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