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Ruby Crystals grass

Melinis nerviglumis

My very first garden bed was an intentionally “xeric” bed. I wanted to plant either all natives or drought-tolerant plants. At the time I thought I would have an entire garden filled with plants that needed no or very little watering. (That was before I caught the serious gardening bug, scouring plant catalogs and wanting things that were beyond Texas’ ability to handle.)

A nursery in Austin has a great selection of all kinds of bunch grasses, and I found these beautiful plants–something different than the usual grasses with their very pink seed-heads. They ended up being the only plant that looked good all summer long, while everything else went dormant or dead. (They are African natives… so maybe I should keep thinking Africa, not English garden!)

By fall, however, the 2 plants had already seeded into other parts of the bed and beyond, and were growing their own little bunch-grass spoutlings–at least 10-15 new plants are now growing up to 12 inches high. So beware. This plant spreads! And I have other wildflowers amongst it so I have to keep picking them out. But it’s worth keeping this pretty plant just for the summer color.

Supposedly frost-tender, this plant lived through winter with no protection, but we did not have any extended freezes so perhaps it just depends on the year.

Size: 2′ tall by about 1x wide.

Blooms: early summer to fall. In mid-summer, the pink seedheads turn silvery but shoot up new pink ones in fall when the temperatures go down.

Sun: full sun.

Tender perennial, reseeds like crazy.