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How to Grow Moor Grass – Molinia

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Molinia, commonly called purple moor grass, is a slow-growing perennial grass that is grown for its whispy see-through quality and its yellowish to purplish flowers that rise above leafy clumps in narrow spikelike clusters. Molinia is often used as a cut flower.

Molinia has fine-textured, erect, narrow, light green leaves in neat dense clumps to 2 feet tall. Dense panicles of compressed spikelets of flowers are held above the foliage. Both leaves and flowers turn brown and fall away in autumn.

Grass family,;they turn to tan and last well into fall. Inflorescences are profuse, but have a narrow structure that gives clump a see-through quality; they make good cut flowers. In late fall, both leaves and flower clusters break off and blow away.

Molinia is a genus of two species of loosely or densely tufted perennial grasses. Both species are native to moist moors, heaths, and lakeshores from Europe to western Russia, Turkey, China, and Japan. 

Get to know Molinia

  • Plant type: Perennial grass 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 5 to 9
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 5
  • Height and width: 1 to 2 feet tall and wide
  • Foliage: Erect, narrow, light green leaves form a neat, dense clump
  • Flowers: Yellowish to purplish flowers in narrow, spikelike clusters rise 1 to 2 feet above the clump
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Include in mixed herbaceous border or woodland garden
  • Common name: Purple moor grass 
  • Botanical name: Molinia caerulea 
  • Family name: Poaceae
  • Origin: lake shores from Europe to western Russia, Turkey, China, and Japan. 
Molinia caerulea Variegata
Molinia caerulea Variegata

Where to plant Molinia

  • Plant Molinia in full sun or light shade. 
  • Molinia grows best in acidic to neutral soil that is moist but well-drained.

When to plant Molinia

  • Set container-grown Molinia in the garden in spring or autumn.

Planting and spacing Molinia

  • Space Molinia 12 inches (30cm) or slightly more apart.

How to water and feed Molinia

  • Give Molinia ample water in well-drained soil. Keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Fertilize Molinia with and all-purpose, slow-release, organic fertilizer in spring.

Molinia care

  • Molinia usually does not need cutting back in spring like other ornamental grasses; leaves and flowers drop away in autumn.
  • Molinia is long lived but slow growing taking a few years to reach full maturity.

Molinia pests and diseases

  • Molinia is usually not bothered by pests or diseases.
Moor grass Molina caerulea in seasonal golden tone and lilac Scabiosa
Moor grass Molina caerulea in seasonal golden tone and lilac Scabiosa

Molinia propagation

  • Sow seed of species in containers in a cold frame in spring.
  • Divide species and cultivars in spring; pot them up until they are established.

Molinia varieties to grow

  • Molinia caerulea. Purple moor grass. Narrow, light green leaves form a neat, dense clump grow 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. Yellowish to purplish flowers in narrow, spikelike clusters rise 1 to 2 feet above clump in summer. Leaves and flower clusters break off in autumn. Cultivars include: ‘Skyracer’ foliage clumps grow to 3 feet tall; flowers spikes bring it to 7 to 8 feet tall; ‘Windspiel’ is similar; ‘Variegata’ is striped lengthwise with creamy white; foliage clump is 1-1 ½ feet tall, with purple flowers adding 6 to 12 inches.


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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