Burned muhly grass will probably recover

Solitary clumps or broad masses of muhly grass are equally beautiful in autumn. They should be clipped to 6 inches high in February. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Solitary clumps or broad masses of muhly grass are equally beautiful in autumn. They should be clipped to 6 inches high in February. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: Our muhly grass was accidentally set on fire after a neighbor walked away while burning their lawn. Will it return for its autumn show of lovely pink? Lon Scott, email

A: It depends on how quickly the clump burned, on how hot it became at the plant crown and on how much moisture was in the soil when it happened. Reassuringly, I have seen big clumps of pampas grass be burned in winter and come back without fail each year. It is not something I recommend, but the big grass doesn’t seem to suffer much. Muhly grass clumps are much smaller, so we’ll just have to wait and see. You’ll be able to see the green sprouts from the center of a recovering clump in mid-April.

Q: I have eight Gold Charm false cedar shrubs that were planted a year ago, but the foliage has been turning brown on the edges since fall. Will they die? Deborah Cochran, email

A: It’s likely the shrubs have gotten too dry a couple of times. Make sure when you water to put the hose under the shrub next to the trunk and water slowly enough so it doesn’t run off to the side. It is important to remember after planting any shrub that the roots will only slowly elongate. The root balls of your shrubs are still small, so it’s sometimes hard to keep them hydrated properly. Put 2 gallons of water under each one twice a week through summer.

Q: I live in Midtown near a large shopping center and have a partially shaded yard. I love bamboo, especially ‘Java Black’ and ‘Alphonse Karr’. What other kinds of clumping bamboo would be appropriate for my area? Claudio Azzariti, Atlanta

A: I think you’ll have a small challenge keeping these two bamboos alive in winter. The various running bamboo varieties, in contrast to clumping bamboo, grow just about anywhere. But in my experience and observation, clumping bamboo only grows well from the lower arc of I-285 and southward. Clumping bamboo is easily damaged from cold when young. I have not seen clumping bamboo growing successfully above Alpharetta. That doesn’t mean it absolutely can’t grow there, it just means I haven’t seen it. Your location next to the nighttime heat of the shopping center in winter will add a needed couple of degrees of warmth to your planting site. If you’re only growing a few plants, it’s worth the experiment to try both of your selections. Check my website notes for sources of different bamboo and growing tips at bit.ly/GAbamboo2.

Walter’s email address is georgiagardener@yahoo.com. Listen to his comments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener.

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