Pink muhly grass at Railroad Park in Birmingham. Photo: Steve Bender

Pepto-Bismol pink may not be a traditional autumn color, but you're going to be seeing it more and more -- thanks to a spectacular native plant called pink muhly grass. It's easy to grow and when sunlight ignites its plumes, it's like seeing the world through rose-colored glasses.

Grumpy hardly ever sees the world that way -- his glasses are 40 shades of gloom. Yet pink muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris), pronounced mewly grass, managed to earn his admiration. Growing 3 to 4 feet tall and wide, this perennial starts blooming in September and continues all the way into November. Garden centers have it for sale in pots right now -- the perfect companion for your smashed pumpkins.

 

Photo: Steve Bender

Pink muhly grass isn't fussy. It demands only two things -- full sun and well-drained soil. That's it. It forms a slowly expanding clump that's easy to divide in early spring to get more plants. And unlike some ornamental grasses that have become invasive in parts of the South, this one is well-behaved. The U.S. National Arboretum recommends its use.

About the only limiting factor for pink muhly grass is cold-hardiness. It isn't winter-hardy above the Middle South (USDA 7). People living in colder zones should simply spray their clumps of Miscanthus and Pennisetum pink. Just like they do to their little pink houses.

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