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Friday - November 21, 2008

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


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!


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



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