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

Friday - November 21, 2008

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Native grasses and shrubs for Houston project
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I am working on a project in Houston. As part of the sustainable approach of the project, I would like to plant native / adaptive, non-invasive grasses and shrubs. It is key that they use little water, but also preferably that the grass be an almost-no-mow grass. The grass will be in an area with quite a bit of sun, being on the south and west sides of the building, just adjacent to the street. The shrubs will have different conditions: some in shade and others in sunny areas. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) sounds like the answer for your grass problem.  Another short grass that you can combine with buffalograss is Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)Native American Seed in Junction has a Native Sun Turfgrass that is a mixture of 66% buffalograss and 34% blue grama.  Both are short turf grasses that require little water or mowing after they are established.  Our article, Native Lawns: Buffalograss, has useful information on establishing such a lawn.  Native American Seed also has Planting Tips for Native Grasses.  Another possibility for a turf lawn are sedges.  Two that do well in the sun for your area are Carex texensis (Texas sedge) and Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge).  You can find out more about sedges for lawns in Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape by John Greenlee.

There are two approaches to finding shrubs for your area.  First, you can select East Texas from the map or the pull-down menu on our Recommended Species page and find a list of commercially available native plants for landscaping in your area.  From that list you can use the Narrow Your Search option to select various "Characteristics" and/or "Growing Conditions".  Second, you can check the "Native Plant Information Pages" on the webpage of the Houston Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) to find information about plants recommended for the Houston area and where to find them. Here are a few recommendations that appear on both lists:

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry), part shade

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon), part shade

Rhus aromatica (fragrant sumac), sun, part shade, shade

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle), sun, part shade

Cornus drummondii (roughleaf dogwood), part shade, shade

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus (coralberry), part shade, shade

 


Callicarpa americana

Ilex vomitoria

Rhus aromatica

Morella cerifera

Cornus drummondii

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Plants to replace hydrangeas in a wet area in New York
July 09, 2010 - Dear Smarty, Two years ago I planted 4 Endless Summer Hydrangas in front of the front porch of my summer cottage on Saratoga Lake. The first year they struggled the second they are limp. Can you give...
view the full question and answer

Why did mountain laurel turn brown and die?
July 20, 2011 - I have (had) a lovely mountain laurel that I planted more than 25 years ago. Many times one or two branches would turn brown and I would trim them out. The shrub is about 10 feet tall and is many tr...
view the full question and answer

Failure of fragrance in Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus) in Illinois
April 30, 2006 - I have a sweet shrub bush that I took from the root of another one. Every year it blooms but never has even a smidgen of fragrance. The bush it came from was very fragrant. Should I do something to th...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing non-invasive shrub for privacy fence in Sugar Land TX
December 06, 2011 - I live in South Texas in Sugar Land. I was going to plant oleanders in my backyard along the fence as a privacy hedge, about 20 feet from my house. However, I was told they were a bad choice becaus...
view the full question and answer

Will Mexican Buckeye Survive in SC?
May 09, 2015 - I have grown a Mexican Buckeye indoors from seed in Greenville, SC. Will it survive the colder climates here if transplanted out of doors? Thanks for your advice!
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 | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center