Muhlenbergia lindheimeri has become increasingly popular since the 1980s. Back then, a grass garden would have been considered absurd. Now, however, gardening with grass is the ultimate in cool. Gardeners appreciate the soft colour palette, their pleasing textures and sense of movement they bring to our gardens.
Lindheimer’s Muhly is a warm-season grass that has a strong vertical form and an upright, fountain-like habit. The effusive, arching, blue-green foliage grows to around 90cm (36in) tall. In autumn the fine textured, rounded clump sends forth slender, perfect-for-cutting inflorescences on upright stems some 60cm (24in) above. The long, open Calamagrostis-like panicles are coloured in muted purplish grey tones, aging to an antique silver and festoon the winter landscape.
Whether headlined as a sophisticated specimen or grown en-masse, this stunning Muhlenbergia is prized for its dependable clumping form and vertical form, its height and adaptability. Hardy to -23°C (10°F), it is as good by the coast as it is in desert conditions. Tolerant of many different types of soil including heavy clay, it thrives in any well-drained soil as long as it gets enough sun and will tolerate heat as long as it gets adequate moisture. Easy to grow, undemanding, and extremely ornamental, once established an early spring hair cut is all that they need.
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri is native only to the Edwards Plateau of central Texas. This area was maintained as savannah grassland up until the mid-1800s. Although it’s now uncommon in its native range, it has become an increasingly popular landscape plant.
Gardeners are fast coming to appreciate the charms of Muhlenbergia. Very few cultivars have come to market, and only a few are widely commercially available, perhaps because the species are so outstanding.
Sowing: Sow in spring or in autumn.
Sow seeds into trays or large pots containing a good quality seed compost or potting soil. Sow thinly, if you sow them too thickly, you risk the seedlings developing fungal diseases or growing spindly. Do not cover the seed with compost as light is required for germination, just tightly press the seeds into the earth.
Moisten the seeds, cover the container with a clear plastic dome or put it in a clear plastic bag so the seeds remain moist. Keep at temperatures of around 15 to 20°C (60 to 68°F).
Put the container in indirect light away from the sun, germination should take place in two to four weeks. After the seedlings appear, remove the cover and place them where they can get plenty of sun and maintain a temperature of around 15°C (60°F) until the seedlings are established.
Once seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them to a one-litre pot containing gritty compost. They will form a bushy plant and be ready to go into the garden in summer. Space at 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) between plants.
Muhlenbergia is a beautiful warm-season grass that forms a neat, upright clump with fine blue-grey foliage. It produces attractive, plumes in autumn and goes dormant in the cold season. It continues to be attractive in the winter landscape. For appearances sake, cut this fast-growing plant to the ground in late winter or early spring before new growth appears to remove the brown leaves and spent flowers. After pruning, add a small amount of fertiliser to the soil around the plant.
It grows best in fertile, well-draining soil and needs ample irrigation in the summer to maintain a lush appearance. It is hardy and is tolerant of high salinity but does not like to be waterlogged in winter. If it is sat in water through the winter it will die so make sure drainage is good as you plant the small plants into the garden. A handful of course grit into the planting hold will help with drainage. If you have clay, sandy soil, or other poor conditions, add a healthy amount of organic matter to the soil.
If you would like to collect seeds, they grow on the fine, branched inflorescences or plumes of flowers that are half as long as the rest of the plant. They are best collected in late autumn just as the wispy plumes lose their silver colour. If you carefully comb the seeds with your hands from dried plumes, you won’t destroy their good looks. Collect into a paper bag and sow as soon as possible.
Borders, naturalistic and perennial planting. Specimen or focal point, Cut or Dried Flower arranging.
The genus Muhlenbergia contains over 150 species, and approximately 65 are native to North America, the majority of Muhlenbergia make their home in the southern U.S. and Mexico.
According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Texas, Muhlenbergia lindheimeri is native only to the Edwards Plateau of central Texas. This area was maintained as savannah grassland up until the mid-1800s. Although it’s now uncommon in its native range, Lindheimer’s Muhly has become an increasingly popular landscape plant.
The German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber (1739-1810) named the genus Muhlenbergia after one of the first early-American scientists. Gotthilf Heinrich (Henry) Ernst Muhlenberg (1753-1815) was American born but returned to his ancestral Germany for schooling and later returned to America. He was an ordained Lutheran minister but devoted his free time to the study of the botany. The G.H.E Muhlenberg pressed plant collection now resides at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Pennsylvania. This assortment of fungi, molds, lichens, mosses and more is considered a national treasure.
The species name lindheimeri is after Ferdinand Jakob Lindheimer (1801-1879). He is often called the father of Texas botany because of his work as the first permanent-resident plant collector in Texas. Lindheimer is credited with the discovery of several hundred plant species. His name is used to designate forty-eight species and subspecies of plants. In 1879 his essays and memoirs were published under the title Aufsätze und Abhandlungen. Lindheimer's plant collections can be found in at least twenty institutions, including the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the British Museum, the Durand Herbarium and Museum of Natural History in Paris, and the Komarov Botanic Institute in St. Petersburg.
Pronounced muh-len-BERG-ee-ah lind-HY-mer-eye. It has the common names of Lindheimer's Muhly and Big Muhly, which distinguishes it from other species which are generally smaller.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 20 mg Average Seed Count 100 Seeds Common Name Lindheimer's Muhly Grass Family Poaceae Genus Muhlenbergia Species lindheimeri Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Arching plumes of fine blue-green leaves Natural Flower Time Late summer and well into winter. Foliage Glossy green Height 100cm (39in) Spread 100cm (39in) Spacing 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) Position Full Sun prefered Soil Fertile, moist but well-drained soil. Season Good autumn colour