For many months, the thin spiky blades add interesting contrast to broad-leaved blooming perennials and annuals and evergreen shrubs. In early fall, the seedheads begin to form where the blade bends at a right angle, and by the end of September, the tip of each blossoms into a 10 x 6-inch filmy purple haze.
In winter the purple stems and seedheads dim to tan, providing a lovely contrast to evergreens. Cut back the stems in March, when the new growth emerges, and drop the spent blades as mulch and groundcover.
Muhly grass is tough and loves the heat; many nurseries are now offering this plant for sale.
This grass is a native of moist pine barrens near the Atlantic coast and parts of Mississippi and Texas. In Virginia it will grow in full sun or light shade and prefers well-drained soil.
The genus was named in homage to G.H.E. Muhlenberg, a self-taught botanist of the 18th century, called by his contemporaries the American Linnaeus. “Capillaris” means “hair-like or delicate”, referring to the tufted purple flowers.
You can learn how to identify native grasses during a meeting at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, of the John Clayton Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society at the