We have thick borders of monkey grass alongside our sidewalk, and winter has been hard on it. It turned brown and a lot of it looks dead. Should we cut it down and allow it to come back? Or is it best to dig it up and replace it?
Monkey grass (also called liriope, or lily turf) turns brown around the edges and tips in winter, but you can be sure that it’s a tough plant, and no doubt will soon begin to sprout new growth. The best time to cut the dead foliage is now, before that new growth begins. You can trim it with clippers, but the easiest way is to mow it down. Cutting it now, before it begins growing again, assures that you won’t shear off the tender new tips of leaves.
Late winter is also a good time to divide clumps of monkey grass. Dig it up and pull the roots apart, or take the advice of garden expert Felder Rushing, the author of Tough Plants for Southern Gardens, who suggests cutting straight down into mature clumps and separating individual crowns. Rushing says plants can be divided every two or three years.
Monkey grass is a landscape staple in some areas because it’s tough. It will tolerate less-than-ideal conditions – dense shade, clay soil, drought – and still spread it roots out to grow more clumps of attractive dark green foliage, accented by stalks of tiny flowers in late summer.
It’s almost spring! And time for the Nashville Lawn & Garden Show March 5 – 8, 2015 at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds. Visit Tennessean.com to read my interview with Fran Sorin, author of Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, who will deliver the keynote lecture on Friday and Saturday at this year’s show . Complete details about the gardens, lecture series, floral gallery and marketplace are at http://nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.
Seed giveaway — winners! The seed company Renee’s Garden is introducing Tuscan Baby Leaf Kale for 2015, and offered two packets of seeds for a Garden Bench giveaway last week. The winners (chosen by random drawing) are Diana (who likes kale in soups and salads and is hooked on Zuppa Toscana) and cote8050 (who suggests growing kale under floating row covers to deter insects). Thanks for your comments!