UNDAUNTED® Ruby muhly

Muhlenbergia reverchonii Lauren Spring Ogden Plant SelectUNDAUNTED® ruby muhly is one of North America’s most beautiful native grasses. It was originally selected by Scott Ogden and Lauren Springer Ogden in 2003 from an exceptionally robust population of Muhlenbergia reverchonii discovered in north central Texas that has since been plowed under. UNDAUNTED® ruby muhly is a long-lived, low-maintenance clumping grass with lovely reddish clouds of flowers late in the season that dry after frost and remain attractive throughout winter. Expanded trials have established UNDAUNTED® ruby muhly’s hardiness at a solid zone 5, making it hardy over much of North America. Its heat tolerance makes it a fine choice for the warmest climates as well.

UNDAUNTED® ruby muhly thrives in most soils including alkaline clay, and adapts to water-logging as well as drought; in the wild it often grows on hardpan that is briefly saturated and then dries out entirely. Summer heat and full sun promote timely and profuse bloom. Its well-known relative, Gulf muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris), bears similar showy pinkish-red flowers, but has a coarser, less compact habit and is not as drought-tolerant or cold hardy.

The original trial plants have thrived in the Ogdens’ Fort Collins garden, and remain dense and vigorous a decade after planting with no dieback in the center, unusual for a bunch grass. The plant’s well-behaved, fine-textured soft green foliage mound is handsome throughout the growing season before the stunning bloom takes the stage. When backlit by autumnal sunlight the flower effect is breathtaking, like a crimson halo hovering over the plant. Use as an accent with asters and colchicums or other autumn-flowering companions, or go for the wow factor with a mass planting, or blend into a naturalistic matrix as in Lauren’s Plant Select Downloadable Design Prairie-Inspired Garden.

View the plant profile here. Or see the video here.

UNDAUNTED® Ruby Muhly (Muhlenbergia reverchonii ‘PUND01S’)
Perennial Grass
Height: 15-18″ to 30″ in flower
Width: 18-24″
Blooms: Autumn
Sun: Full sun
Water: Moderate to dry
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-10
Culture: Clay or loam soils

Thanks to Lauren Springer Ogden for writing this piece.

50 responses to “UNDAUNTED® Ruby muhly”

  1. Claudia Struble says:

    How does Undaunted R.M. grass compare to the species?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      It was selected for cold hardiness and compactness. The strait species is going to be larger by several inches and more open when it blooms.

  2. William W Wiggins says:

    How will this do along the CO/WY border at 7200′? I can supply irrigation with a slight modification to my system. Another question would be how attractive is it to animals such as rabbits, mule deer and elk all of which visit our 40 acres.

  3. Mindy says:

    Hi! I have a question concerning Undaunted Ruby Muhly…. We live in a small town in south central Wisconsin. We have a courtyard garden in back with an 8 foot fence surrounding it. Our front fence is 3 1/2 feet high, our house is brick with pink lady walkways in front and back. The back is a micro growing zone and I have pushed zone 7 plants there that live for 2 years or so. Our front yard is full full sun and is hot during the summer. I am in the process of redoing our front beds as last winter killed off our beautiful weeping copper beech tree that we had for 20 years (a late spring cold snap of -35 – unusual) … I want to create a grass garden with a mix of both annual grasses and perennial grasses (purple fountain grass, maiden grass, little bluestem….etc) This muhly grass is beautiful and I just purchased seeds and plan on starting them indoors in late January. What is their grow rate?…I think in the back garden they may winter over. And even if they remain on the small side, I think the interest will still be there…How big will they get if I seed them indoors in late January and set them out in mid to late May… Thanks!

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Ruby muhly will take about 3 years to become mature in WI. Do not offer it any supplemental irrigation after the second year. Enjoy!

  4. Jules says:

    How will this grass thrive in a coastal Delaware location? I have 2 areas in mind: 1. Is next to an open bay with southwest exposure and significant wind at times, 2. Is 4 miles inland from the coast with less wind and more prone to wet seasons.

  5. Kathy F. in Westminster, CO says:

    How does this grass do with an abundance of rabbits? Thank you.

  6. Jane Mattheis says:

    I’m not expecting this to overwinter in MN but will it bloom first year from seed?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      UNDAUNTED Ruby muhly is over wintering in Michigan and might do so in MN. May need to be mulched in the fall if there isn’t any snow. It will need two years to flower growing it from seed.

  7. Patrick says:

    How well will the Undaunted do if it’s planted in a container? Exposure is hot all day sun.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      They can live in containers with watering and overwintering in a garage if you are in zone 5 areas. Enjoy!

  8. Becky Carcich says:

    Do you think this should do great at about 6000 ft. In suburb of Denver? This is such a beautiful grass

  9. Cynthia Grover says:

    I live in Fruita, CO. My site is clay and alkaline, with lots of west winds and sun. Is this a good choice?

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      Yes, it is a great choice! You will see this plant in yards on Orchard street just south of E. Aspen street there in Fruita. Enjoy!

  10. Patt Clark says:

    I live in Aurora. Will this Ruby Muhly grass overwinter in a double container ( a 2 gallon black plastic nursery container inside a whiskey barrel

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      Yes, it could. I had one in a container for a couple of years until I stopped watering it in the winter.

  11. Bernadette Elam says:

    Will his do okay in Sandy loam?

  12. Karen says:

    My undaunted muchly was my favorite in a new Santa Fe NM garden last summer. Almost everything has grown back and started to flower this (almost)summer, EXCEPT my muchly which just has sparse leaves scattered through the crown. It is receiving regular drip irrigation. Suggestions? Does it need to be fed?

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      It could need to be fed and watered a little more for best performance. It should start to bloom towards the middle of August so there is still time to give it more strength for optimal blooming.

  13. Natalie Brugman says:

    Is it possible to hydro seed Undaunted? I need to cover a dry, sloped, west facing area of 300×10 feet…a daunting task to plant 300 plus plants in one season.

    Also, I live in Loveland, CO, just west of Devil’s Backbone. We get 300 – 600 head of elk coming through a few times every winter. Is Undaunted deer/elk resistant? Thanks!

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      Great question, but unfortunately hydroseeding is not a possibility. However, it is deer resistant.

  14. Montserrat says:

    I have a rooftop garden in San Francisco 3 miles from the coast. The exposure is south west but mostly west. We get lots of wind, and often drippy sbustained fog in the summer and sun fall – spring. Combined with the fact that I would be putting the ruby muhly in pots is there a chance this plant would still thrive?

  15. Maureen says:

    Is this sterile and will not reseed itself?

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      It is not sterile and can reseed if you live in New Mexico or Texas where the season is longer. In CO and north, the season is too short for the seed to mature. Enjoy!

  16. Maureen says:

    I live in Rochester NY, zone 6a. I’m considering planting this by the road/mailbox. How tolerant of snow and salt is the Ruby Muhly?

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      That is a good question. It’s used in medians and on the roads in CO and they perform fine. If NY uses the same salt it should survive fine however when the plows come by it will knock foliage over and it may be best to trim back by the end of December.

  17. AJ says:

    Should the Ruby Muhly be cut back/pruned in Spring?

  18. Gina says:

    Will this grass spread/ seed it self in Seattle Washington?

  19. Holly H says:

    Hello, I saw this on plant select and purchased three for a sunny spot in our yard. I’m zone 5b so I thought it would be okay in our yard but now I’m reading that is only good up to 6,000ft elevation and I’m in Castle Rock, Colorado where my elevation is 6,584ft. Do you think they will be okay if I plant them in a sunny/hot part of the yard? Thanks so much.

  20. Stephanie Holland Pudik says:

    I live in Springfield, Mo. Zone 6. How will this do here with mild winters and some snow?

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      Ruby Muhly will do great there! But they will be larger, due to extra water. Enjoy!

  21. Edward Couture says:

    What should the spacing be when planting…….three clumps

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      Placing them on 2′ centers will create a continuous pink floral cloud above the foliage. Spread them further apart if you’re looking to show off individual plants.

  22. Douglas says:

    I bought and planted outrageously expensive Undaunted Ruby Muhly Grass seeds in containers in spring of 2020 which produced three clumps of healthy grass about the size of a soft ball. Clumps transplanted in fall to permanent garden locations. All survived northern Michigan winters and grew the next springs & summers to nearly the same exact size, no signs of increased size or color change in the fall. How long does it take for healthy URM grass to mature and “flower” to the showy plants I expected?

  23. Christine Schneider says:

    I am looking to plant this next to a fence that gets partial sun. Will this be ok. I have a few other grasses there already.

  24. Lou says:

    Hello, the USDA has now designated my county in the Upper Peninsula as zone 5a (was 4b). Will mushly grass overwinter here or would it need to be grown in a container and stored inside for the winter?

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      Yes Undaunted muhly grass should be hardy there. Leave it outside in the ground. Enjoy! R

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