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Pink Grasses: 11 Ideas for Muhlenbergia in a Landscape

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Pink Grasses: 11 Ideas for Muhlenbergia in a Landscape

January 21, 2018

It’s no secret among clothing designers that a soft shade of pink will flatter most complexions. The same rule is true in a landscape, where a hazy swath of pink will make surrounding shades of green look that much better.

Pink flowers are one option, but flowers fade within days. Perennial grasses can look good for months. Hardy pink Muhlenbergia capillaris cultivars are ideal candidates: They’re not picky about soil quality, barely need water after they get established, and can stand up to the heat of summer.

Is Muhlenbergia capillaris the right plant to add a dash of pink to your garden? Here are 11 ways to use pink Muhlenbergia in a landscape:

On the Horizon

Photograph courtesy of Griffin Enright Architects. For more of this garden, watch for our upcoming post about Griffin Enright’s Santa Monica project.
Above: Photograph courtesy of Griffin Enright Architects. For more of this garden, watch for our upcoming post about Griffin Enright’s Santa Monica project.

A ship at sea will draw your attention to the horizon and so will a stand of Pink Muhly planted in the distance. Suddenly a garden feels grander.

A “Glowy” Look

Muhlenbergia capillaris grows to a height of 3 feet. It is native to the eastern United States and Mexico and thrives from growing zones 7 to 10.
Above: Muhlenbergia capillaris grows to a height of 3 feet. It is native to the eastern United States and Mexico and thrives from growing zones 7 to 10.

“Its pink inflorescence seems to float above the plant like soft clouds,” notes Santa Rosa Gardens, which sells Muhlenbergia Capillaris for $8.95 apiece.

Back-of-the-Bed Boost

 Photograph by Dario Fusaro courtesy of Cristiana Ruspa.
Above: Photograph by Dario Fusaro courtesy of Cristiana Ruspa.

A native of northern Italy, Turin-based landscape architect Cristiana Ruspa of Giardino Segreto situated a clump of lipstick-pink Muhlenbergia behind lower-growing plants such as silvery artemisia and a dwarf variety of purple Russian sage.

Front and Center

A low hedge of pink Muhlenbergia softens the look of the higher shrubs at the back of a garden bed. Photograph via Hoffmann Nursery.
Above: A low hedge of pink Muhlenbergia softens the look of the higher shrubs at the back of a garden bed. Photograph via Hoffmann Nursery.

Pink Muhly is a common nickname for Muhlenbergia capillaris, which is typically hardy to growing zone 7 and “happily adapts to a range of soils,” notes Hoffmann Nursery. The North Carolina-based whole nursery sells several cultivars of Muhlenbergia; for information and prices, see Hoffmann Nursery.

Side-by-Side Symmetry

 Photograph by Eric Piasecki/OTTO courtesy of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. Planted on either side of a gate, Muhlenbergia creates a pleasing mirror image.
Above: Photograph by Eric Piasecki/OTTO courtesy of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. Planted on either side of a gate, Muhlenbergia creates a pleasing mirror image.

A Flattering Color

Two varieties of pink Muhlenbergia available from Santa Rosa Gardens include (from L to R) Muhlenbergia ‘Fast Forward’ and Muhlenbergia ‘Pink Cloud’; available seasonally at $7.95 per 3.5-inch pot.
Above: Two varieties of pink Muhlenbergia available from Santa Rosa Gardens include (from L to R) Muhlenbergia ‘Fast Forward’ and Muhlenbergia ‘Pink Cloud’; available seasonally at $7.95 per 3.5-inch pot.

Softer Succulents

In the Texas hill country, a gravel garden designed by D-Crain relies on the inviting shape of pink Muhlenbergia to visually soften the sharper edges of nearby succulents. Photograph courtesy of D-Crain.
Above: In the Texas hill country, a gravel garden designed by D-Crain relies on the inviting shape of pink Muhlenbergia to visually soften the sharper edges of nearby succulents. Photograph courtesy of D-Crain.

Sharper Greens

Photograph courtesy of Griffin Enright Architects.
Above: Photograph courtesy of Griffin Enright Architects.

With a pink backdrop, subtle shades of green are suddenly easier to distinguish from one another.

A Warmer Autumn

Landscape architect firm Nelson Byrd Woltz designed 22 acres in Virginia with native species including feathery Pink Muhly Grass to create a pink wash in autumn after other plants turn brown or lose leaves. Photograph by Eric Piasecki/OTTO courtesy of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.
Above: Landscape architect firm Nelson Byrd Woltz designed 22 acres in Virginia with native species including feathery Pink Muhly Grass to create a pink wash in autumn after other plants turn brown or lose leaves. Photograph by Eric Piasecki/OTTO courtesy of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.

Driveway Transition

Photograph by Frances Garrison.
Above: Photograph by Frances Garrison.

Softening the edge of a driveway in Tennessee, pink Muhly Grass eases the transition between hardscape and lawn.

Pink on Pink

Photograph by Frances Garrison.
Above: Photograph by Frances Garrison.

The hazy pink of Muhlenbergia is a foil for other, brighter shades.

For more inspiration about how to use grasses in a landscape, see our Garden Design 101 guides:

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow and care for various grasses with our Grasses: A Field Guide.

Additionally, get more ideas on how to successfully plant, grow, and care for muhly grass with our Muhly Grass: A Field Guide.

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