Monday, July 28, 2014

Planning for Fall: Muhly Grass

Sometimes a plant gets lost in the exuberance of those around it. That's what happened to Gulf Muhly Grass starts that I planted at the back of the bed where Muhly grows down the side. Tithonia came up and I left it for delight of butterflies, forgetting the struggling grass that got shaded out completely by Tithonia.

Muhlenbergia capillaris in the Rock Wall bed. 
We're doing better this year. Backlit by the sun from the west it makes a fall show.

Zinnias near Muhly

This year's Muhly grass starts are happily growing in front of Daylilies and in the midst of Lantana montevidensis, two big clumps and some wispier bits over out of sight on the right. There should have been clumps along the edge of the island in the background, had I not forgotten to pull Tithonia that shaded them last year. 

Let's move forward to the bed where Tithonia grows:

Somehow the mower got too close to the clump of Muhly in the center. 
All might have benefited with close mowing in late spring.
Tithonia on the north side of it may have to be thinned out if it starts to shade.

Moving around to view from the street side: Lantana crawled up into 
the Muhly clump and Melampodium planted itself in front.

Duranta is finally blooming to the left.

 Tithonia commenced to the North. Gulf Fritillaries found it.
You have to look hard to see the butterfly.
Next pic picks up the bed in sight at upper left in above view.

Madagascar Periwinkle, happy in the worst heat of the season. Untidy, but the dead plant next the rock is seed for next year's Black Eyed Susans, now on the wane. Beside it is a Lily, storing up energy for next year's blooms. 

A garden is never static. Last year, this bed had large clumps of Lemon Grass along the back edge. It is struggling this year after a cold winter and not every clump returned. You can see Gulf Muhly, Lemon Grass and Vetiver here in last October's post.

We've toured part of the front part of the Front Garden, where I plant the west sides of beds for view by passing motorists and the unseen back sides for my own amusement. 

Gulf Frit 


  1. I have pink Muhly grass struggling in one of my front beds. I really would love to have a fall river of pink froth out there, but I don't know if it's going to work. I've heard that it needs summer heat, which we don't get quite enough of, at least not every summer. There's a good chance the starts there may just fade and die. We shall see. Tithonia and Zinnias also love your summer heat, they've struggled here too.

  2. I look at my garden and often think, "This place sure is full of common plants," but if I plant common plants they work. They grow in this climate. I draw the line at Pampas Grass, better suited to Florida Freeway medians but I see it put to good use to screen a swimming pool nearby. Do what works.

  3. I have fallen in love with pink Muhly grass, and I hope to plant some in my garden this fall. It is good to see some of the butterflies beginning to appear. Fritillaries are so beautiful!

  4. "Somehow the mower got too close ..." Those darn mowers. You can't trust them for a moment.

  5. Alison, you might look at Eragrostis as a substitute for Muhly, kind of its smaller cousin.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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