Mini Christmas Trees

Last week, as my husband and I were pulling out our local Home Depot when I saw what looked like mini Christmas trees throughout the parking lot islands.

mini Christmas trees

mini Christmas trees

I grabbed my cell phone and took a picture of these funny-shaped plants.

Do you want to know what they are?

No. They aren’t Christmas trees…

badly pruned

Those cone-shaped plants are in reality badly pruned Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) grasses.

These are my favorite ornamental grasses for the desert climate and although they are badly pruned, they did get some things right.

– For one, Pink Muhly is a great plant for parking lot islands as they can handle full sun.

In addition, they were pruned at the right time of year.

Just not the right way…

Pink Muhly grasses should be pruned back to 3 inches in height, straight across when the last frost date has passed. In the Phoenix area, where I live, that is early March.

Believe it or not, pruning them the correct way is easier then making them cone-shaped and once the warmer temperatures of spring arrive, these beautiful ornamental grasses will leaf out again.

badly pruned

Once fall arrives, they produce lovely, burgundy plumes…

badly pruned

In winter, the plumes will fade and become straw colored, which adds a nice touch of wintery color.

badly pruned

The Pink Muhly grasses, below, weren’t pruned the right way either.

badly pruned

They resemble rounded balls and weren’t cut back enough.  But, they look much better then the mini Christmas tree shaped ones.  Don’t you think?

I love these grasses and have planted them in many areas, including along golf courses, churches and other common areas. And, I just recently planted them in my backyard around my flagstone seating area.

badly pruned
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

5 replies
  1. Renee
    Renee says:

    David from The Desert Edge recommended your blog to me… I also grow 'Regal mist' and I have to admit that I've pruned mine into a too-round shape. I should fix that…

    Thanks for having a blog about gardening in the desert. I'm always looking for more good sources of info!

  2. David Cristiani
    David Cristiani says:

    That didn't look so bad in my thumbnail (I did ask, "boxwood in Phx?"), but then on your blog, "yikes!" I've seen it all…I hope. This is a must-forward to some maintenance people / clients who've ruined my / their designs…

  3. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Thank you all for your kind comments.

    Colleen, there is an awful amount of bad pruning in the Phoenix area. I try to educate my clients, one at a time on how to properly prune shrubs, but it is un uphill battle 😉

    Noelle

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