UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

Water Wise Plants

Muhlenbergia rigens

muh-len-BER-jee-ah RIG-ens
Common Name
Deer Grass
Plant Type
Mature Size
3 ft. wide and tall
Water Requirements
Low: water every three weeks until the root ball is wet
Sun/Shade Requirements
Full to half sun
Flower Color
No flowers
Maintenance- Design- Planting Tips

Grasses are the backbone of late summer and fall dry perennial gardens. We love the movement and texture they add to gardens. The graceful leaves of grasses look particularly beautiful when highlighted by the late afternoon sun.

Muhlenbergia rigen is a reliably pretty California native grass. The flower stalks are persistent and look attractive year-round. We've used it as an accent plant in our native and non-native beds with good results. The UC Davis Arboretum, which has selected Muhlenbergia as one of their "All Stars", suggests using it as a low informal screen.

Muhlenbergia requires very little maintenance in our water-wise garden. UC Davis recommends shearing Muhlenbergia a couple inches above the ground in the early spring every three years to encourage new green growth. California Native Plants for the Garden suggests periodically raking out dead foliage with a fan rake. Otherwise, this is a maintenance-free plant.

The Palo Alto Demonstration Garden also grows Muhlenbergia dubia, a smaller cultivar. We have found this to be an attractive low-water plant, although the UC Davis Arboretum suggests giving M. dubia slightly more water than M. rigen

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