Deer grass

Muhlenbergia rigens


Deer grass is a highly popular clumping grass for commercial and residential plantings. This is a very robust species, growing with a mounding habit, 2-3 ft. high and 4-5ft. wide, with narrow pale green foliage. Long arching flower panicles have a cream color when they develop in late spring that fade to straw by end of summer. They grow 4-5 ft. tall and provide strong silhouette value for many months during fall and winter. In full flower, individual plants will be approximately 6 ft. wide from flower tip to flower tip. It works well to space plants closer that, but take this into account if placing deer grass near sidewalks, walkways, or driveways.

Deer grass naturally occurs in sandy and gravelly washes of Southern California, Arizona, Texas and northern Mexico. It was one of the first species to be introduced into widespread cultivation and is a highly adaptable plant. In California, it tolerates sun, heat, aridity and low amounts of supplemental water. It is renewed by annual clipping and periodic division in late fall or winter. Like other muhly grasses, it is often planted in large masses, mixed among boulders or planted in containers.

Plant Type: Grass, Native
Foliage Character: Semi-deciduous
Habit: Robust, Mounding, Arching
Growth Rate: Fast
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: Cream
Flower Season: Summer, Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Restoration, Raised planters, Parks and open space, Near pools and water features, Mass planting, Foliage accent plant, Flowering accent plant, Civic spaces, Borders, Banks
Height: 2 ft. – 4′ (to 5′ with flowers)
Width: 4 ft. – 5 ft. (to 6 ft. with flowers)