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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


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


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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