En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

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
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
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

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
 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Bunch grasses for labyrinth that are good for livestock
September 29, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm designing an outdoor labyrinth that will be in full sun in our black Slidell clay soil here in north central Texas. The area MAY be mowed for hay at a later date (i.e...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control in Spicewood TX
March 20, 2013 - I am from a small community along the Colorado River a few miles East of Marble Falls. We are looking for a ground cover/grass to prevent erosion on on our beach front. We had planned to use Bermuda G...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a children's playground
April 20, 2015 - We have extensive native gardens on our 2 acre property, but my children want a garden of their own with plants they can hide under and that are good for imaginative play. Are there any native plants...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Slope in NC under Black Walnut
April 20, 2015 - Please advise on some plants for a difficult to mow 30% slope, near Asheville, NC. We have partial sun, plenty of good rich topsoil, and plenty of rain. The key issue is that it is under and near the ...
view the full question and answer

Drought-tolerant turf for Southern California
April 23, 2015 - Is it possible to grow Habiturf in Riverside, California, in the area of UC Riverside? The climate is similar to the desert areas or Arizona, just slightly cooler in the Summer. If not, is there a d...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center