En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - February 10, 2014

From: Walnut Creek CA, CA
Region: California
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Can Gulf Muhly grow in California from Walnut Creek CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I live in Walnut Creek, California, and recently learned about Muhlenbergia capillaris. It's a beautiful grass. Would this native do well here?


There is good news and bad news - first the bad news:According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly) is not shown on this USDA Plant Profile Map as being native to any state closer to California than East Texas. As you may know, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, recommends the use of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which that plant is to be grown because of plant needs for climate, water and soils. So, it would be almost impossible for us to say if it would do well there.

However, Californians seem to be game at trying just about any plant, so if you are also game, we suggest you first follow this plant link Muhlenbergia capillaris (Gulf muhly) to our webpage on the plant and compare your climate and growing conditions with those listed on that page, especially the Growing Conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Sandy soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam
Conditions Comments: In the fall, gulf muhly creates a stunning pink to lavender floral display. It functions well in meadow gardens and as a general garden plant."

Then, read this article from the  Master Gardeners of Marin Garden CA on  Muhlenbergia in California. Remember, we can make no guarantees, nor do we have information on whether it might be invasive in California, so you need to check on that.


From the Image Gallery

Gulf muhly
Muhlenbergia capillaris

Gulf muhly
Muhlenbergia capillaris

Gulf muhly
Muhlenbergia capillaris

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plant for full sun behind waterfall
March 21, 2009 - I have a 24 inch waterfall around my pool. I need to plant something behind it. I have full sun and hot Texas weather. I will be watering everyday, so what do you think would grow well in this area?
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep bank in Pennsylvania
July 12, 2011 - What do I do with a very steep bank with hard clay soil to stop erosion and to look nice. Is there a ground cover that would help?
view the full question and answer

Lawn fertilizer in Austin
February 23, 2012 - My lawn person wants to spread granulated spring fertilizer on my lawn. Problem is I have a very old Live Oak tree that I do not want to kill. What should I avoid spreading on my lawn to prevent t...
view the full question and answer

Best time to plant Habiturf in Austin
February 20, 2012 - When is the best time to plant Habiturf seeds?
view the full question and answer

Retention pond from Hendersonville NC
April 24, 2012 - We have a retention pond that has recently been cleaned and we would like to plant perennial native plant and grass seeds that will enhance the appearance and contribute to the natural process of filt...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center