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?

Share

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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - October 29, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Growing grasses under juniper trees (Juniperus ashei)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, Yesterday, I attended the plant sale at the Wildflower Center. I purchased cupgrass and switchgrass seeds only to discover the grasses may need more water than I am willing to use in the place I originally wanted to plant both. My yard is heavy caliche. I do water my volunteer trees: cedar, escarpment live oak, redbud and some hardwood I have yet to identify. I also intend to plant the Heritage cedar elm I purchased near those trees. Will the grasses grow near or under the trees, especially those blasted cedar trees? (I think a cedar tree killed both one of my and my neighbor's wax myrtles which were planted about 8' from the trunk but not in the shade of the canopy.)

ANSWER:

Juniperus ashei (Ashe's juniper) does have allelopathic effects on some plants (e.g., Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) according to Gwen Young and Janis Bush, but competition for water, light and nutrients also play a significant role in reducing the growth of plants beneath juniper trees.

Both Eriochloa sericea (Texas cupgrass) and Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) prefer growing in the sun so neither is going to grow well under your juniper or, for that matter, under any tree.  According to our information, both grasses require a medium amount of water. You no doubt bought your seeds from Native American Seed at our fall plant sale, so you might like to visit their website to read their planting tips, etc.

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native Desert Willow and bunchgrass for Lubbock TX
July 29, 2013 - We live in Lubbock and have decided to try to make our front yard as native as possible. It has been a very difficult process finding native species locally (even the local Aggie nursery sells a lot ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for aerobic septic system in Houston
February 03, 2011 - My husband and I would like to plants some trees and shrubs, but we have an aerobic system taking up most of the yard :( Can you recommend any trees that won't hurt that? Also shrubs for our weath...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for grass under non-native weeping willow from Yorba Linda CA
April 24, 2012 - What would be a good replacement for the grass currently growing under a weeping willow? Something requiring low maintenance, the problem is with mowing over and around the roots.
view the full question and answer

Grasses and flowering plants for Dallas
July 02, 2008 - I have an area of morning sun next to my house about ten feet deep. I would like to mix a fairly tall grass with two other plants, flowering. What are some of your suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Types of Eragrostis lovegrasses that will survive in Northern Wisconsin
May 21, 2007 - I am interested in plains lovegrass, and know that it primarily grows in southern climates. Do you think it could thrive in northern Wisconsin if it is planted in a protected area? Could it survive ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center