En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - January 11, 2008

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses palatable for horses and eliminating KR bluestem.
Answered by: Nan Hampton


Looking for native Texas grasses which are palatable for horses, to overseed in areas which are currently overrun with KR bluestem. What are the best grasses and best way to accomplish this? (SW Gillespie Co.) Thanks!


First, let's address the problem of getting rid of King Ranch (KR) bluestem. We've had several inquiries recently and, in fact, the 2007 Texas Invasive Plant Conference had an entire day devoted to a symposium addressing just this question. Please see the answer to a recent question about eliminating KR bluestem for a thorough discussion of the problem.

Here are several native grasses that make good forage for horses and cattle:

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

You can read an analysis of most of the species above in Forages of Texas - North Central by Texas A&M Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Stephenville.

Several sources (e.g., Safergrass.org) emphasize the nutritional benefits of using native grasses over introduced grasses. You do need to realize, however, that native grass pastures are more difficult to establish than pastures of the introduced forage grasses. Native grasses face competition from introduced nonnative grasses and need to be managed carefully to prevent overgrazing. Native Prairies Association of Texas, Kansas State University and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation have information on planting and establishing native grasses.

Native American Seed in Junction is an excellent source for native grass seeds. They also have information on planting native grasses. You can also look for other seed companies and nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants in our National Suppliers Directory.

A cautionary note—although most native grasses are desirable to feed your horses, there are some grasses and other plants, both native and non-native, that you should avoid for your pasture. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation has compiled a list of Poisonous Plant Considerations.


More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

What plants grow well in Athens, TX?
January 18, 2011 - Athens, Texas, we have very sandy soil mixed with clay, what plants grow well here?
view the full question and answer

Need plants to grow between flagstones in Vista, CA.
February 06, 2012 - Hi, I have put in a flagstone patio set in DG. The DG is creating a very sandy messy surface on the flagstone, so want to plant a low ground cover between the joints. Its a fairly large area, in sun...
view the full question and answer

What is a lawn broom from Cibolo TX
February 15, 2013 - Concerning gulf muhly grass you mention using a lawn broom to get rid of the dead stalks. What is a lawn broom? What does it look like? Where can I purchase one?
view the full question and answer

Time to Plant Blue Grama Seeds in Spring Branch, Texas
June 11, 2011 - We would like to plant Blue Grama grass seeds but due to the hot weather with no rain here in central Texas, can we wait until September or even October to plant grass seeds? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Groundcover Under Maple Tree in Ottawa That Takes Foot Traffic
April 19, 2013 - Hi, I am looking for a groundcover to put under a large maple tree that will be alright for kids to run about on and will be happy in the Ottawa climate. Your other answers to similar questions have b...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center