Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea

Whispering Grass

Perennial Meadow


As gardeners there are two groups of purple moor grass to be aware of: Molinia caerulea subspecies caerulea which flower somewhere between knee and hip height and Molinia caerulea subspecies arundinacea which top head height.


The taller of the two make diffuse fountains of flower stems that dance in the slightest breeze, however they need room around them to fully show off their dramatic form.

Molinia begin to flower in the second half of summer and above you can see a clump of M. c. subsp. arundinacea ‘Cordoba’ two months ago developing its warm golden autumnal colouring.

Invariably, their display, and ceaseless movement, continues until the second half of December when suddenly they collapse into an untidy heap. The lower-growing molinias don’t do this and remain effective as long as snow and wild weather permits; they are ideal in mixed planting schemes and work well as mass plantings. However, for the excitement of their taller-growing cousins we must pay a small price and be prepared to venture into the garden just before Christmas and tidy away their debris.


Unlike other tall-growing grasses which need cutting back hard using shears and secateurs; the purple moor grasses are one of the easiest grasses to tidy up.

Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea

Their leaves and flower stems break cleanly off at ground level leaving a hard mounded crown.

Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea

My winter workout lasted little more than five minutes, but the difference was worthwhile.

Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea

Looking forward to fresh start in the New Year.