Dietes iridioides (Syn. Dietes vegeta, Moraea iridioides) Fortnight Lily, African Iris
up to 4 ft. high x 2-3 ft. wide
Part to full sun
USDA zones 9-11
Bright white sentinel-like blooms. These are sturdy, rhizomatous perennials that form clumps of green, vertical sword-like leaves. They appreciate organically amended soils but tolerate average alkaline soils if drainage is good. In colder locations, plants should be grown in pots for blooming summer accent plants that can easily be brought in for winter. In low deserts, plants can acclimate to full sun, but they thrive in part sun locations where they have afternoon shade. Cylindrical, scapes or flower stalks form in spring and summer with distinctive Iris blooms rising well above the foliage. These are perfect oasis accent plants, filler around pool decks or water features, or use them for north or east facing entryways, borders or mixed perennial beds the need a care-free vertical pop.
Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’ 'Regal Mist' Muhly Grass
up to 3 ft. high x 2-3 ft. wide
Full to part sun
USDA zones 6-11
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
up to 5 ft. high x 3-4 ft. wide
USDA zones 6-10
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
up to 4 ft. high x 3-4 ft. wide
Full to part sun
USDA zones 6-10
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.