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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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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.

 

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