QUESTION: Monkey grass from a border is growing up into some of my perennial beds. How can I get rid of it? If I want to transplant some of it, when and how should I do that?
Monkey grass (some call it liriope, or lily turf) is a tough plant that can tolerate a lot of conditions – clay soil, dense shade, drought – and still send it roots out to grow more and more thick clumps of foliage. This time of year, it sends up narrow stalks of tiny flowers that provide a lovely late-summer show, followed by dark blue or black berries that stay on the plants into the fall.
If monkey grass is creeping into a bed where it’s not wanted, the best way to get rid of it is to dig it up when you find it sprouting. Keep in mind that the roots spread horizontally, and that pieces left in the ground will sprout new growth, so remove as much of the root as possible.
Because it is so tough, transplanting monkey grass is easy, and you can accomplish the task any time. In the book Tough Plants for Southern Gardens, garden expert Felder Rushing suggests cutting straight down into mature clumps and separating individual crowns. Replant them where you want them. Transplanted pieces take hold quickly, and begin to fill out with new growth in the spring. Rushing says plants can be divided every two or three years and still grow in clumps.
Enjoying your kitchen garden?
Find ideas for all that zucchini, that basket full of okra, all those tomates, plus summer garden tips and tasks in the August Garden Calendar at Tennessean.com.
Garden events in Middle Tennessee
August 15: Lunch and Lecture at Cheekwood: “Beyond Green: Colorful Foliage in the Garden.” Sue Hamilton, director of the UT Gardens, shows how to use plants with colorful foliage to provide year-round impact in your garden. Noon – 1 p.m.; $25 for non-members. www.cheekwood.org/Education to register.
August 16: Make a batch of fresh salsa to enjoy at Summer Salsa Creations at WarnerParkNatureCenter, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Naturalist Melissa Donahue leads this all-ages workshop, starting with fresh tomatoes from the NatureCenter garden – or bring your own. Call 352-6299 to register. Registration opens Aug. 2.
August 20: Julie Berbiglia of NPT’s Volunteer Gardener is the speaker at this month’s Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee meeting at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. Her topic: “Water Conservation.” Refreshments at 6:30, meeting at 7 p.m. The public is invited. www.ppsmt.org.
August 22: Hosta hybridizer Bob Solburg of Green Hill Farm in Franklinton, N.C. is the speaker at this month’s meeting of the Middle Tennessee Hosta Society at Cheekwood. The meet-and-greet begins at 6:30, meeting at 7 p.m., and Solburg will have plants for sale. www.mths-hosta.com.