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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - July 05, 2014

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Mowing Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr or Ms Smarty Plants, Although I see you have posted some information about mowing Buffalograss it doesn't seem to answer my question. Will it hurt to mow the buffalograss flags off? Will that keep seeds from being produced? We have tall weed grass mixed in with our buffalo grass and I don't want him to mow the Buffalograss at all. We live in round Rock in Williamson county. We have a large backyard, the Buffalograss is not watered, and has patches of wildflowers growing in it. Thank you for all you do!

ANSWER:

Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) is a dioecious plant with male and female reproductive structures on separate plants.  (Occasionally, it is monoecious with male and female reproductive structures on the same plant, but in separate flowers.)  Please look at the 6 photos below from our Image Gallery.  The first three are from the female plants and you can see that the flowers are on a very short stalk down within the grass leaves.  The last three photos are the male plants with their pollen producing flowers on tall stalks that are elevated well above the leaves of the grass.  What you are seeing as flags on your buffalograss are the male, pollen-producing, reproductive structures.  If you search within the leaves of the grass you will probably find the female, seed-producing flowers.  If you read our How to Article, Native Lawns: Buffalograss, you will see that the recommendation is to not cut the buffalograss shorter than three inches.  Also, read the mowing suggestions in Native Lawns: Habiturf® a Multi-Species Mix for North, West and Central Texas.  By now the pollen from the flags on your grass has probably reached the female flowers and it would not affect seed production to mow the flags off.  You should be able to mow to 3 or 4 inches without mowing off the female flowers and seeds and affecting seed production.   However, you can check the height of your female flowers and decide how high to mow.  You should remember, too, that mowing the wildflower blossoms before the seed has been set and dispersed from them will affect the propagation of next season's wildflowers.

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

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