Pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is native to Eastern and Southern North American and Central America to Guatemala. It is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 6-9. The grass has soft pink blooms resembling cotton candy. The blooms dry and last into the winter. You may wonder, “Can pink muhly grass grow in containers?”
Pink muhly grass grows up to three feet tall and two to four feet wide. This grass makes a stunning specimen. This guide will tell you how to grow pink muhly grass in a container.
Can Pink Muhly Grass Grow in Containers?
Yes, pink muhly grass will grow in containers if they are large enough. However, the container must have drainage holes, or the pink muhly grass will get root and crown rot. If you plant other plants in the container, allow pink muhly grass enough space for air to circulate.
Does Pink Muhly Grass Do Well in Containers?
Pink muhly grass will do well in containers if they are large enough to keep the roots from baking in the summer or freezing in the winter.
How Do I Grow Pink Muhly Grass in Containers?
Growing pink muhly grass in a container is much like growing it in the ground. However, you will have to water it more so the soil doesn’t get too dry.
Choosing a Pot
Choose a pot with drainage holes. The pot should be at least three feet in diameter and at least two feet deep.
You will need to pick a well-draining potting mix to fill your pot. Pink muhly grass prefers a pH that is slightly acidic to neutral, so pick a potting mix that contains peat moss. Fill the pot two-thirds full of this potting mix.
Planting Pink Muhly Grass
You can start pink muhly grass from seed or transplants.
- Start pink muhly grass from seed indoors.
- Use a good seed starting mix and place a seed every 30-42 inches.
- Press the seed on the soil but do not cover it. This is because the seed requires light to germinate.
- Place the pot in bright, indirect sunlight.
- When the seeds have germinated and formed good root systems, transplant them to their container.
To use pink muhly grass transplants, follow these steps.
- Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the root ball.
- Remove the transplant from its pot.
- Place the transplant in the hole.
- Fill the hole with water.
- Let the water drain.
- Backfill the hole around the pink muhly grass with potting soil.
- Water the potting soil.
- Fill in enough potting soil to reach the top of the root ball but not cover it.
- Repeat steps seven and eight until the potting soil is firm but does not sink when watered.
- Place the container in the sunlight.
- Keep the container moist but not soggy for the first year until the plant is well established.
How Do I Care for Potted Pink Muhly Grass?
After your pink muhly grass is successfully potted, here is how to care for it.
Pink muhly grass does best in full sunlight. Therefore, indoors, place the grass in bright, indirect sunlight. Outdoors, place the container in full sunlight.
While pink muhly grass will grow in partial shade, the grass will flop over, and the blooms will be sparse or nonexistent.
The first year the pink muhly grass is growing, keep the soil moist. Once the plant is established, it prefers the soil on the dry side and is drought tolerant. If the soil gets dry to a depth of two inches, water the plant until water comes out of the drainage holes.
After 15 minutes, empty the water from the saucer under the container, if there is one. Too much water will cause root and crown rot.
The watering frequency will depend on the volume of the soil in the container and whether the container is indoors or outside. A moisture meter is inexpensive and can take the guesswork out of when to water.
Pink muhly grass likes hot, dry weather. The grass will die if the temperature gets below –10 degrees F. If your temperature gets this cold or colder, you must bring the container in before the first freeze. Then, place outside again after all danger of frost is over. Indoors, keep the container out of drafts and away from heating and air conditioning vents.
Too much humidity will lead to tar spot, a fungal disease. Place the container where the humidity is low to protect pink muhly grass from this fungus.
Pink muhly grass doesn’t need much fertilizer, or the grass will become limp. Use a balanced water-soluble fertilizer mixed half strength once a month.
In late winter or early spring, cut the grass back to three to four inches tall. Do not prune later in the year, or the blooms will be affected.
Repot your pink muhly grass once every two years. Replace the potting mix each time you repot the grass.
The easiest way to propagate pink muhly grass is to divide it when you repot the grass. Cut the clumps apart, making sure that each part has roots. Return the parent plant to the old container with new potting soil. Plant the new clumps in new containers.
Inspect your pink muhly grass weekly for pests or diseases. If your pink muhly grass is indoors, turn the pot a quarter turn each week, so the grass grows straight.
Pink muhly grass doesn’t have very many pest problems. However, mealybugs can be a problem. Insecticidal soap or neem oil will kill the mealybugs. Follow the label directions to avoid photo toxically, especially in high temperatures.
Pink muhly grass is very resistant to diseases but does suffer for two.
Tar spot is a fungal disease that is caused primarily by moisture on the grass. The grass blades will have small yellow spots on them. These spots will spread and turn black. Tar spot is primarily cosmetic, and treatment is rarely warranted.
To prevent this disease, do not get the grass blades wet when watering the plant. Make sure that each pink muhly grass plant has enough space for the air to circulate around it. Air circulation dries the grass blades so the fungus can’t live on them.
Root and Crown Rot
Root and crown rot are caused by overwatering. The grass will wilt during the day to start, and then the grass will wilt all the time despite moist soil. To treat, pull the grass from the container. The grass is not salvageable if the roots are all black and slimy. If part of the roots is still white, trim the damaged roots and replant them in new potting soil. Do not water so much in the future.
Other Common Problems
Pink muhly grass can fail to bloom if all of its needs are not met. If you are having problems getting your plant to bloom, check these common causes.
- Dehydrated from insufficient water
- Not enough sunlight
- Pruned too late in the spring
- Grown too close to adjoining plants
When in an outdoor container, pink muhly grass attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Small mammals and birds like to nest inside the clumps of grass and eat the seeds it produces. In addition, pink muhly grass is deer resistant. Make sure you remove any wildlife nesting in the pink muhly grass if you move a container inside for the winter.
In summary, pink muhly grass can be grown in a large container to accommodate the plant. However, container-grown plants will need more water than grass grown in the ground. In addition, you will need to fertilize the grass when it is in a container. However, you can move a container inside for the winter and continue to enjoy your pink muhly grass all winter.