Last year our neighborhood association decided to re-landscape the entrance to our subdivision. The old landscaping was outdated, in decline, and overgrown as it had been there since the subdivision was first developed in the 1980’s. It was time to update.
I worked with a local landscape architect on a site plan, and one of our plants, prominent at the entrance, is pink muhly grass. I have gotten several favorable comments and questions as to the name and have inspired others to plant it as it is an attention grabber in the fall with its airy pink foliage. A friend is putting it in at one of his new businesses.
Pink muhly grass (Muhlenbegia capillaris) is a southeastern native grass that can make a great addition to any landscape. It is easy to establish and care for. Plant it in a location that gets plenty of sun. It will thrive in almost any soil, though it prefers a well-drained soil because it is very drought tolerant once established. Plants will grow to about 3 feet wide and 4 feet tall.
One wonderful thing about it is that it is typically insect and disease free, so it requires very little care. Just keep it watered during the first year of establishment, and after that, basically no more watering will be needed other than what Mother Nature gives it.
During the growing season of spring through summer the plant is blue-green to gray-green in color. The pinkish-purple haze appears in October and stays that way into November.
Pink muhly grass, like most ornamental grasses, looks best if cut back during the winter. As the pink color fades to a tan color during the winter, the grass will still provide interest in the landscape. Because of this, wait until just before new spring growth begins to prune. Plants typically don’t ever need dividing, but you can do so in the spring if you desire. Regular fertilizing is usually unnecessary, but if it gets some while you are fertilizing other plants, that is fine.
You can plant the muhly grass as individual plant specimens (as we have done) or you put them together to form a low hedge or border.
For those that like to make indoor arrangements, pink muhly grass is perfect for that.
Bird enthusiasts will love the grass as the birds come to feast on it during the fall.
It’s almost the perfect plant, especially for low maintenance landscapes.
Bleeding River Birch Trees
Many of you continue to clean up and have tree branches pruned as a result of the ice storm. One tree species that got hammered was river birch. As limbs have been pruned, there has been a lot of “bleeding” coming out of the cuts. Naturally I have been asked about this quite a bit as people are concerned for their trees. They are afraid the trees are going to lose all their sap and dry out.
But I am here to put your mind at ease. The bleeding does absolutely no harm to the tree, it just upsets the owner. It will stop before too long.
Several kinds of trees are famous for bleeding copious amounts of sap when pruned in the spring. Maple trees will. Muscadines are also famous for that. Vermont farmers intentionally cut their trees to collect sap that’s made for maple syrup.
Due to a good bit of rain this winter, your pansies may have purple spots on the leaves. This is the fungus Cercospora leaf spot. As the purple spots mature, it will develop a tan center and a purple rim.
The fungus produces abundant spores within the center of the maturing spot. Every time the infected leaf is hit with water from irrigation or rain, spores are popped up onto adjacent leaves and plants. It is important to monitor your plants for early infection before the disease spreads throughout the entire bed.
To help keep infection to a minimum, don’t water your pansies any more than is necessary. Cercospora leaf spot is most often seen in the fall and spring because its infection is favored by warmer conditions.
Fungicides that help in control include Daconil 2787 and FungAway, but if there are only a few infected leaves, just pick them off.
Reach Sid Mullis, the director of the University of Georgia Extension Service office for Richmond County, at (706) 821-2349 or firstname.lastname@example.org.