Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
5 ratings

Sunday - January 27, 2008

From: Austin , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Trimming of native Muhlenbergia dumosa (Bamboo grass)
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Should Muhlenbergia dumosa (Bamboo grass) be cut down in a similar fashion to other perennial grasses that go dormant in the winter.

ANSWER:

Muhlenbergia dumosa (Bamboo grass) does not appear in our Native Plant Database; however, it is a native of Arizona and Northern New Mexico and thus qualifies as a native of North America, which is the focus and expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It somewhat resembles bamboo, thus the common name, with the feathery fern-like tops and thick stalks. However, it does not resemble the non-native bamboo in invasiveness. It spreads slowly from underground stolons, eventually forming a clump 4-5 feet wide and tall. It will grow in full sun or part shade, is considered hardy down to 10 degrees and is deer resistant. Trimming perennial grasses is as much a matter of personal taste and energy as anything else. At the Wildflower Center, grasses are generally trimmed a third to a half in late winter (like about now). Then, they are tidied up, with dead and trimmed blades of the grasses raked out and disposed of. This is partly a question of appearance, partly to let plenty of sun get to the vigorous new growth in the grass, and partly as a protection against fire danger. Dried grasses can be a very fast spreader of fires, not good anywhere or in any season.

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Hardy plants for a narrow yard in Illinois
July 28, 2008 - I have an area in my yard that is approx 35 feet by 5 feet that is shaded on the east by a 4 ft fence and on the west by the house and above by trees. It slopes off to the neighbors yard (so doesn't ...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses and turf grass for VA
February 08, 2012 - I recently moved to Blacksburg, Virginia. I am becoming involved with a church here that recently started a grounds committee. There is some discussion within the group of which varieties of native ...
view the full question and answer

Clearing up the nativity of so-called Baltimore sedge (Carex senta)
November 12, 2009 - Dear Smarty Pants: Hi, did you ever get more clarity on the Carex senta issue (baltimore sedge)? Whether or not it was a wetland grass? I too am in Maryland and was thinking of planting it for a law...
view the full question and answer

When to move eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides)
September 18, 2010 - I have a huge Eastern gamagrass clump that I need to move. What is the best time of year to transplant native grasses
view the full question and answer

Burning back Gulf Muhly instead of trimming from San Antonio
December 19, 2011 - A few years ago I noticed that the Center burned back its Gulf Muhly rather than cutting it back. Did that study result in any conclusions or recommendations?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.