Bouteloua gracilis 'Gila Silver' Blue grama grass
up to 12 inches high & wide
A superior heat tolerant grama grass. ‘Gila Silver’ is a low-desert native shortgrass prairie selection. Unlike other popular selections that are from a northern provenance, this is a small clumping grass is way better adapted to our low desert landscapes. Although they are small in size these well-behaved grasses are big in personality. Thin blue-green leaves form small clumps with numerous nude stalks rising above the foliage in summer that hold cute eyebrow-shaped seed heads that eventually curl into nearly perfect little circles as they mature. ‘Gila Silver’ is as well-suited to large reclamation projects or roadway stabilization as they are for small urban home landscapes.
Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’ 'Regal Mist' Muhly Grass
Bright glossy green ornamental grass with pink plumes in fall. Make no mistake this grass is striking in the fall to winter when it is in bloom. The seed heads are fluffy, some say, “cotton candy-like” with a burgundy to pink color. But be aware, that this grass is native to coastal inland swamps. While they do tolerate high heat with no issues, to perform their best, they should be given ample water during summer, otherwise these plants will have a lackluster fall bloom period. They are best left alone, however, if they are to be pruned at seasons’ end, cutting them all the way to the ground is the best way to refresh them.
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri ‘Autumn Glow’ Autumn Glow Muhly Grass, Lindheimer's Muhly
Large, sturdy ornamental accent grass for big spaces. This Muhly grass has a fairly isolated native distribution in central to southwest Texas, but fortunately it is more adaptable to urban landscape environments than most other muhly grasses. The name Lindheimer, as a plant species name is a clue that plant’s native range includes central to southern TX, since the name refers to Ferdinand Lindheimer, a German born botanist who’s base of plant collecting operations was in the heart of Texas Hill Country just north of San Antonio. This is a large, vase shaped ornamental grass that tops out around 5 ft. high at the seed heads. Leaves are blue green. Like other grasses, regular supplemental irrigation is needed for establishment, but only summer water is needed in low deserts, in high or mid desert regions, it can survive on natural rainfall above 15 in. per year. Strongly vertical tan to silvery seed heads appear in late summer to fall. Like other muhly grasses they are low maintenance.
Muhlenbergia rigens Deer Grass
Green soft mounding perennial ornamental grass. This true AZ native occurs around 2500 to 7000 ft. in elevation usually associated with drainages, riparian areas or as understory plants with various pine and juniper species. They form a naturally soft rounded mound of evergreen foliage. When in bloom, multiple tight vertical flower/seed stalks appear to make it look like a big pin cushion. Moderate moisture in low desert landscapes keeps them flush and fresh looking through the summer. As with all Muhly grasses, little to no maintenance is best, but trimming them to the ground in early spring just prior to new foliage growing back is best. Many practical landscape applications including for foundational plants, erosion control on slopes, revegetation projects, oasis to desert transitions, even in containers or around patios or pools. Every landscape design can use some Deer Grass.
Muhlenbergia rigida Purple Muhly Grass
Smaller, soft ornamental grass with feathery plumes. Purple colored feathery seed plumes fall to spring give this plant is common name and character. Lower growing than most muhly grasses, this variety is well suited to using as a mass planted ground cover in open, sunny areas. With more water plants tend to grow larger and can be susceptible to crown rot, which makes excellent drainage critical for long-term success. They can tolerate some shade but have low flat habit. Plants in full sun stay more upright and have the best color. Purple plumes give way to a light blonde color as they persist. The seed stems can be removed when they lose their form and rigidity. This is a “No Shear” plant.
Nassella tenuissima (Syn. Stipa tenuissima) Mexican Feather Grass
Soft, swaying bright green perennial grass. Popular ornamental grass with soft, thin bright green iridescent leaves. They grow in a tight vertical mound up to about a foot tall and spread slowly to about the same. In late spring seed heads form that top the entire plant with light blonde to tan feathery seed plumes, hence the common name. In colder climates they can go dormant with all the leaves turning a silvery blonde color. They make a magnificent statement when planted in mass, but just a few in a random or organized group is visually pleasing. In their natural high desert environment they grow primarily as an understory plant to oaks and other evergreen to semi-deciduous trees. The can grow on vast colonies but typically on northern facing slopes. This feature tells us when they are planted in low desert heat, give them more water in the summer to keep them happy. Or plant them with morning sun to afternoon shade. Like any ornamental grass, they are low maintenance.
Pennisetum setaceum ‘Cupreum’ Purple Fountain Grass
Ornamental purple-leafed perennial grass with fluffy seed heads. All fountain grasses are clump forming with 2-3 ft. long arching narrow leaves. This selection has a lovely burgundy to purple leaf color blended with green. The seed heads are soft, petting worthy panicles that sway above the foliage in spring and again in fall typically. The virtually sterile fluffy seed heads are purple initially, fading to light tan as they mature. Once finished, seed stems can be pruned off for cleanliness. These are tough, sturdy accent plants adaptable to regular irrigation with other landscape shrubs, perennials or accents. They will have the richest color when planted in full sun, but they will accept filtered light or half day sun just as well. Well-drained soils are best.