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Description

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 3-4 ft. 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.

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.

Water Needs

Deer grass is highly adapted to all parts of the Inland Empire where it grows well in sunny exposures and with low amounts of supplemental water during summer. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water; more water in the spring will result in more robust summer performance.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 1

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
 
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

 
0"-2"
0"-2"
0"-2"
1"
1"
1"
1"
1"
1"
1"
0"-2"
0"-2"
  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, click here.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Grass, Native
Foliage Character: Semi-deciduous
Habit: Robust, Mounding, Arching
Growth Rate: Fast
Height: 2 ft. - 5 ft.
Width: 3 ft. - 6 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Pale green
Flower Color: Cream
Flower Season: Summer, Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
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

Maintenance

Cut back hard, to 6-9" in early spring, as needed to "freshen up" the look, usually only every two or three years. To tease out dry leaves and broken flower stalks, try raking with a leaf rake at any time (S).

References

Associations

Plant Lists