En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Plants wilting too quickly in Toledo OH
May 27, 2012 - The garden I have had recent issues with plants wilting all too quickly. I would like to know what types of plants would be hearty for the climate in Toledo, Ohio. I have a partly sunny front yard and...
view the full question and answer

Hardy, inexpensive perennials for Mansfield, TX
March 12, 2008 - I am trying to fill two flowerbeds that are in full sun mostly and right next to the house. I want something that can live in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and is pretty hardy. I also don't want to spe...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Lighthouse Point FL
April 13, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants: I am looking for mowable ground cover for part of my back yard. Due to a Mahogany tree, a hammock, surrounding foliage and a fence, there is alot of shade in the area, alon...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Mexican feathergrass in Austin
September 21, 2010 - All of my mexican feathergrass plants have died or gone dormant, laying down flat for the most part. Any idea what's going on with them?
view the full question and answer

New low maintenance grass similar to Turffalo
October 27, 2009 - While touring the Wildlife Center, our group was told about about a new low maintenance grass similar to Turffalo. It only grows several inches tall, drought resistant and crowds out other grasses an...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center