Florida-Friendly Native Grasses
Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is one of the most popular native grasses in the landscape – and for good reason. Its unique pink plumes are an autumn eye catcher. Native to pine flatwoods, sandhills, dunes, coastal strands and hammocks, it is moderately salt tolerant. This hardy grass is tolerant of moist and dry; and acidic and alkaline soils. Preferring full sun, this upright, clumping grass grows a moderate 3’ tall by 3’ wide. Small animals use the canopy for shelter and small birds eat the seeds.
Purple Love Grass (Eragrostis spectabilis)
A small (1.5’ tall by 1.5’wide) clumping perennial, Purple Love Grass (Eragrostis spectabilis), is aptly named for its showy, purple inflorescence each fall. Native to sandhills, pine flatwoods, and coastal uplands, this plant prefers full sun and sandy, acidic to alkaline soils. Its ability to tolerate fluctuations in moisture levels, from dry to wet, makes it an excellent rain garden plant. It has a low salt tolerance, but is excellent for erosion control and mass plantings. Birds and other wildlife consume the seeds and it serves as a larval host for the Zabulon Skipper.
Dwarf Fakahatchee Grass (Tripsacum floridanus)
Reaching only 3’ tall by 3’ wide, Dwarf Fakahatchee Grass (Tripsacum floridanus), is a smaller relative of Fakachatchee Grass (Tripsacum dactyloides). A threatened species in Florida, Dwarf Fakahatchee is native to only the rocky pinelands of Collier, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties. Commonly grown by native plant nurseries, it performs quite well in central and north Florida. Its evergreen, clumping nature, adaptability to wet or dry soils, moderate salt tolerance, and full sun to part shade tolerance make this an ideal plant for tough conditions. An ideal rain garden plant due to its efficiency at removing pollutants from water as it flows slowly through its clumps. Seeds are eaten by birds and it serves as a larval host for the Byssus Skipper.