Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Questions on non-native St. Augustine from Austin
October 15, 2013 - I have St. Augustine grass in my yard. I am having work done in my yard soon, which will require new sod. I know the St. Augustine has to take root in the ground before the first freeze, to assure t...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting Muhly grass in late summer from Wimberley TX
August 02, 2012 - Can I transplant Muhly grass in July/August?
view the full question and answer

Potential allelopathy of cultivar of Artemisia ludoviciana
March 09, 2009 - I recently submitted a question regarding allelopathic potential of artemisia ludoviciana on rusty blackhaw viburnum, not specifying that I meant Vibernum rufidulum. Mr. SP interpreted my viburnum as...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Mexican feathergrass in Austin
September 21, 2010 - All of my mexican feathergrass plants have died or gone dormant, laying down flat for the most part. Any idea what's going on with them?
view the full question and answer

Using salt to kill bermuda grass
May 12, 2009 - (Submitting to site per your request on Facebook, plus an added bit o'info) I am considering trying to kill off the bermuda grass around my raised bed with salt. Vinegar isn't cutting it.. S'pos...
view the full question and answer

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