A hollow pampas grass block is difficult to repair
Q: I have some pampas grass that died in the center. Does cleaning it promote additional growth there? Steve Stern, email
a: This is a common problem with pampas grass. It’s almost inevitable, but proper pruning can help you prevent it. You should cut a clump of pampas grass to a height of 12 inches in January or February. Don’t burn it. Use a gloved hand to remove all of the dead material in the center of the clump. Failure to cut it back enough and get all the dead material out of the center is what causes a clump of grass to die in the middle. If your pampas grass already has this problem, it will be nearly impossible for it to germinate in the center. The best course of action is to dig up the entire clump, divide it into quarters, and replant one quarter in place. Use the remaining three grass blocks elsewhere or discard them. In my experience, digging pampas grass is hard work. The heavy pick is my favorite tool.
Q: We want to plant 10 American columnar shrubs in our garden. Will I have any problems if the ground is frozen when we plant? (Ray is in Bartow County).
a: Pam Knox, director of the UGA Weather Network, looked at the number of days the 2-inch soil temperature at the weather station in Rome (closest to Bartow County) was at or below freezing. She found only two days during the past ten years when the soil froze. Farther north, in Blairsville or Ringgold, the soil might be colder, but I bet even then, there are long days of winter when the soil doesn’t freeze in North Georgia. It is good to plant trees now. But it is necessary to keep the root system moist for at least six months so that the roots do not dry out.
Q: Online guides say you can cut the main limbs of lilacs to the ground to encourage new growth. My single stem lilac grows 10 feet tall but I want it to be lower and bushier. Beryl Tyler, email
a: I’ll wait until late February, when the weather gets a little warmer, and prune at 2 or 3 feet off the ground. This is the time when you are most likely to get resprouting from dormant buds. After the buds appear in the spring, trim the growing tip of each one when it reaches 12 inches tall. This should result in a more attractive and bushier plant.
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 morning on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.comOr follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook page at bit.ly/georgiagardener.