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, adding movement and texture. The graceful leaves of grasses look particularly beautiful when highlighted by the late afternoon sun.

Muhlenbergia rigens is a reliably pretty California native grass. The flower stalks are persistent and look attractive year-round. 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. 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.

PADG notes: This plant is used as an accent plant in both the native and non-native garden beds with good results. PADG Garden also grows Muhlenbergia dubia, a smaller cultivar. This is an attractive low-water plant, although the UC Davis Arboretum suggests giving M. dubia slightly more water than M. rigens.

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