What is Bamboo Muhly Grass?

Bamboo Muhly Grass, scientifically known as Muhlenbergia dumosa, is a perennial grass native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It belongs to the Poaceae family and is commonly referred to as Bamboo Muhly due to its resemblance to bamboo plants. This ornamental grass is highly valued for its unique appearance, versatility, and low maintenance requirements, making it a popular choice among gardeners and landscapers.

Appearance and Growth Habits

Bamboo Muhly Grass is characterized by its tall, slender stems that can reach a height of 3 to 6 feet. The stems are typically green, but can turn reddish-brown in the fall and winter months. The grass forms dense clumps, with each clump consisting of numerous stems that emerge from a central base. The stems are topped with delicate, feathery plumes that give the grass a graceful and airy appearance.

Environmental Requirements

Bamboo Muhly Grass is well-adapted to arid and semi-arid climates, thriving in regions with hot summers and mild winters. It is highly drought-tolerant and can survive in sandy or rocky soils with low fertility. This grass prefers full sun exposure but can tolerate partial shade. It is also tolerant of a wide range of soil pH levels, from acidic to alkaline.

Landscaping Uses

Bamboo Muhly Grass is a versatile plant that can be used in various landscaping applications. Its graceful appearance and ability to form dense clumps make it an excellent choice for creating borders, hedges, or screens in gardens and landscapes. The feathery plumes add movement and texture to the landscape, making it a visually appealing choice for both residential and commercial settings.

Cultural Significance

Bamboo Muhly Grass has cultural significance in the regions where it is native. It has been used by Native American tribes for various purposes, including basket weaving, thatching, and as a food source for livestock. The grass is also valued for its erosion control properties, as its extensive root system helps stabilize soil on slopes and prevent erosion.

Planting and Care

When planting Bamboo Muhly Grass, it is important to choose a well-draining location to prevent waterlogging, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot. The grass should be spaced at least 2 to 3 feet apart to allow for proper air circulation and growth. Regular watering is necessary during the establishment period, but once established, the grass is highly drought-tolerant and requires minimal watering.

Pruning and Maintenance

Bamboo Muhly Grass is a low maintenance plant that requires minimal pruning. However, to maintain its neat appearance, it is recommended to remove any dead or damaged stems in early spring. This can be done by cutting the stems close to the base using sharp pruning shears. Additionally, dividing the clumps every few years can help rejuvenate the plant and promote healthy growth.

Pests and Diseases

Bamboo Muhly Grass is generally resistant to most pests and diseases. However, it may occasionally be susceptible to aphids, spider mites, or grasshoppers. These pests can be controlled through regular monitoring and the use of appropriate insecticides or natural predators. Proper cultural practices, such as providing adequate air circulation and avoiding overwatering, can also help prevent the occurrence of diseases.

Companion Plants

Bamboo Muhly Grass can be paired with various companion plants to create visually appealing and harmonious landscapes. Some suitable companion plants include desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), and desert spoon (Dasylirion spp.). These plants complement the grass’s texture and color, creating a cohesive and attractive planting scheme.

Winter Care

Bamboo Muhly Grass is generally hardy and can withstand cold temperatures. However, in regions with severe winters, it may benefit from some winter protection. Applying a layer of mulch around the base of the grass can help insulate the roots and protect them from freezing. It is also advisable to avoid excessive watering during the winter months, as this can increase the risk of root rot.


Bamboo Muhly Grass can be propagated through division or from seed. Division is the most common method and is typically done in early spring. The clumps can be carefully dug up and divided into smaller sections, ensuring that each section has a sufficient number of stems and roots. These divisions can then be replanted in prepared soil and watered thoroughly.


In conclusion, Bamboo Muhly Grass is a versatile and visually appealing ornamental grass that can enhance any garden or landscape. Its unique appearance, low maintenance requirements, and adaptability to various environmental conditions make it a popular choice among gardeners and landscapers. Whether used as a border, hedge, or screen, this grass adds texture, movement, and beauty to outdoor spaces. With proper care and maintenance, Bamboo Muhly Grass can thrive and continue to impress for many years to come.