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

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Monday - March 02, 2009

From: Homestead, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for south Florida
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in south Florida, south of Miami about 30 miles. I would like to get rid of my St. Augustine lawn and plant native grasses. Can you please suggest some plants I could use? Will buffalo grass grow this far south?

ANSWER:

We are always happy to help gardeners replace their non-native, sometimes invasive lawns with natives. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is all about the use of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown, where they will require less fertilizer, water and maintenance. We have two excellent How-To Articles, Native Lawns and Buffalograss, which can answer your questions much better than we could. We checked our webpage on Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) and learned that it is not native to Florida. We suspect there might be too much moisture in Florida for a plains grass. You will likely get more on-the-spot information on this from the University of Florida Extension Office for Miami-Dade County. From that site, we first clicked on Lawn and Garden, and then on Florida Yards and Neighborhoods.  They may not put the emphasis on natives that we do, but could very well have information on the viability of buffalograss in your area.

We will go to our Native Plant Database, do a COMBINATION SEARCH, selecting Florida for the state and "Grasses or Grass-like Plants" under Habit. From that, we'll choose some that we think would work in your native grass lawn. You can follow each plant link to its individual page and learn how high it will get, when it blooms, its light requirements, etc. At the bottom of that page, there will be a Google link that will take you to more information. When you have made your choices, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, type in your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed suppliers and landscape and environment consultants in your general area. 

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Aristida stricta (pineland threeawn)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (silver beardgrass)

Carex blanda (eastern woodland sedge)

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Eleocharis montevidensis (sand spikerush)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Paspalum floridanum (Florida paspalum)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Tridens flavus var. flavus (purpletop tridens)


Andropogon glomeratus

Aristida stricta

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Carex blanda

Carex cherokeensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Eleocharis montevidensis

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Paspalum floridanum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Tridens flavus var. flavus

 

 

 

 

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