Molinia - Purple Moor Grasses

12 February 2016  |  Admin

As part of a minor reshuffle of this website this is an older article that has been moved here in the Blog.


Home of the National Plant Collection ® of Molinia

We are pleased to announce that Tim was granted Full National Plant Collection® Holder status in November 2003.  At present the collection contains 30 different taxa (species and cultivars) which are displayed in several of the nursery stock beds including a designated bed for the smaller types. On the whole they are within sight of each other so that visitors can compare and contrast with ease. Molinia are deciduous grasses from Europe and Asia, commonly called “Purple Moor Grass” in the UK.

Molinia fall into two groups for the purposes of gardening - the tall ones (M. caerulea ssp. arundinacea) which grow to around 2m and the shorter ones (M. caerulea ssp. caerulea) which grow to about 1m.  All are happy in most soils, preferring those that are moist, in at least some sun as they grow in damp bogs and moors in the wild. They will grow in at part shade, but beware that they will tend to arch more (that’s being polite for saying that they can flop!).  We have found them to be very adaptable and generally drought tolerant as they are quite deep rooted when established (if it is a very dry summer, like 2003, they just grow a bit shorter!). They grow in neutral to acid soils, but M. c. ssp. arundinacea is more tolerant of higher pH.

They all make clumps of  grassy green foliage from their woody bases in spring and produce slender but strong stems during early-mid summer bearing the flowers from June.  Many of the flowers start deep green, often tinted purple, and fade to lovely straw tone in autumn.  Also in the autumn excellent foliage and stem colour is produced, from pale yellow to deep orange.

There are currently three variegated forms of M. caerulea ssp. caerulea which tend to be smaller than the green parents.