Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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 - April 19, 2010

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Failure to bloom of gulf muhly in Dripping Springs TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have had several gulf muhly in my garden for about 8 years, but last fall they did not bloom, however several others only feet away did. Do you have any idea why this might have occurred?

ANSWER:

If you have not noted any damage from either mowing or edging tools, nor has any pesticide been applied too near it, we are at a loss. Here are the Growing Conditions for Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly), also known as Gulf Muhly:

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
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.

If the soil hasn't changed, which surely it has not, another possibility that comes to mind is that some other nearby plant, a tree or shrub, perhaps, has grown enough to be shading the particular plant you are concerned with. Also, we noted in other research that, while this grass likes a moist soil, it can get rot problems with too much water standing on it. This grass blooms in October in Central Texas, but the pink/purple inflorescence lasts well through the Winter, and then should be cut down to about 6" and cleaned up to prevent insects hiding in the dead grass stems and perk up the plant. Another thing we could not find an answer for is how long do these grasses normally live? Since they propagate themselves by wind-blown seeds, as well as by bunching, rather than having stolons on the ground, it might not be noticeable in a field of Gulf muhly that some of them had died. But in a garden situation, one plant failing to thrive would be very noticeable. If you have trimmed your grass and it is starting to show new growth, we would suggest you check for soil moisture and sun exposure, correct either or both, if necessary, and give the grass another year to recover. 

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Muhlenbergia capillaris

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Muhlenbergia capillaris

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Grasses for Erosion control in Iowa
September 27, 2012 - We have a sloping yard in the midwest that gets 2-4 hours of sun during the warm weather. When we have large rainfalls, the water just pours down the slope causing a lot of erosion to the surrounding ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants both deer resistant and good for erosion from North Oaks MN
August 23, 2012 - We have several partially sunny areas on hills that are prone to both deer and erosion. Our goal is to reduce runoff in an effort to preserve the watershed that provides tap water to many citizens of ...
view the full question and answer

Why are there no low-mow lawn grasses composed of only native fescues?
September 09, 2014 - Dear SP, Most blends of ecograss I see are a combination of non-native and native fescues (and sometimes buffalo grass, blue grama, etc.). Why are there (apparently) none that are composed entirely of...
view the full question and answer

Plants for full-sun landscape
November 20, 2007 - I live in a very rocky area just outside of Fort Worth, TX. It's taken me all spring, summer & now I'm going into the fall, to landscape just 30 feet in front of my house. The front of the house get...
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

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.