Lindheimer’s muhly (Muhlenbergia lindheimeri), also called big muhly, is native to the Edwards Plateau in Central Texas and is valuable as an accent grass in full sun. It is the Operation NICE! (Natives Instead of Common Exotics!) Plant of the Season.
Lindheimer’s muhly is a large, fountain-like bunch grass reaching 2 to 5 feet tall at maturity, with light gray-green to blue-green leaves that are soft to the touch. It blooms in autumn, producing 6- to 18-inch panicles of silvery white flowers; afterwards, seed heads extend above the foliage in winter.
It is a smoother-textured soft grass that can be used as a screen, instead of large, rough-leaved non-native grasses like Pampas grass.
After a spectacular fall display of feathery blooms, Lindheimer’s muhly’s seed plumes and leaves persist throughout the winter.Seed may be collected in December for plant propagation.
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.
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.
Like many Texas natives, it may need supplemental water during its first growing season. After it is established, it will thrive with existing rainfall. It is drought-tolerant. Lindheimer’s muhly’s long, slender leaves are used by birds for nesting material. It is deer resistant.
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 1700s.
Look for the NICE! Plant of the Season signs and information sheets on your next visit to a participating North Texas nursery. Participating nurseries include Four Seasons Nursery, Meador Nursery and Painted Flower Farm, all in Denton, Schmitz Garden Center in Flower Mound and Shades of Green Nursery in Frisco. Thank you for using native plants in your landscapes.
BECCA DICKSTEIN, a member of the Trinity Forks Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, is on the University of North Texas biological sciences faculty.