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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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

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Monday - February 11, 2008

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Trimming of native muhly grasses
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Do pine muhly, gulf muhly, and bull muhly need an "annual haircut"? I started wondering after reading that Lindheimer's muhly does not have to be cut back each year. I cut back all my non-muhly natives (brushy bluestem, switchgrass, etc.).

ANSWER:

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly) or Gulf muhly, Muhlenbergia dubia (pine muhly) and Muhlenbergia emersleyi (bullgrass) or Bull muhly all can be attractive year-round with their graceful blades waving in the wind. The subject of trimming has more to do with personal preference than necessity. Any tall grass benefits from having a nice cleanup, raking out the dead stalks (with a lawn broom) and cleaning up around the grasses. They can then be mowed, trimmed about 1/3 of their height, or whacked off, but not necessarily every year. Although they come back strongly in the Spring from a heavy pruning, they can look really pretty awful in the meantime. A mild trimup one year and a little more thorough one the next year is good. And, if you have a large number of grasses, you might alternate, maybe giving a heavier trim to one, and only a slight trim to the next, leaving some always taller and more graceful in the group and then reverse the treatment the next year. But the cleanup needs to be done every year, late in the Winter, for appearance, to prevent providing havens for pests and disease, and as a fire deterrent.


Muhlenbergia capillaris

Muhlenbergia dubia

Muhlenbergia emersleyi
 

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