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
1 rating

Monday - March 30, 2009

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses to replace mondo grass in California
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hello - I live in the Southern California coastal zone, and am looking for a drought resistant, turf alternative. My husband wants to use "Mondo Grass", but I know that is not native to the region, and I'm trying to convince him to use a native alternative. Can you recommend a native alternative that would be similar to mondo grass in appearance/effect?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants is happy to hear that you are replacing your Asian native, mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus), with a North American native. Although they do tend to be taller, here are four natives that are attractive and have a somewhat similar look to mondo grass:

Achnatherum hymenoides (Indian ricegrass)

Koeleria macrantha (prairie Junegrass)

Melica imperfecta (smallflower melicgrass)

Sporobolus airoides (alkali sacaton)

Sedges are another possibility and they look even more like mondo grass than the native grasses above (see the article, Sedge Lawns for Every Landscape).  Additionally, most sedges are evergreen and tend to be shorter than the grasses.  Both Carex pansa (California meadow sedge) and Carex texensis (Texas sedge) will work well in the Los Angeles area.  You can check our National Suppliers Directory for nurseries that specialize in native plants in the Los Angeles area.  It is possible that they may carry other native Carex sp. as well.


Achnatherum hymenoides

Koeleria macrantha

Melica imperfecta

Sporobolus airoides

Carex texensis

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Evergreen grasslike plants for Austin TX
April 15, 2008 - Hi, I'm in Austin, TX and looking for some evergreen grass-looking plants. Would you explain the similarities/differences between Butterfly Iris and Lily Grass in this regard? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Turf grass for part-time home from Louisville KY
April 28, 2012 - We have a small yard at a remote location with cistern water, and need a turf grass for a yard, clay soil, which I am willing to amend. It will receive sporadic attention as my husband and I do not l...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for eroding hillside in Kansas
May 08, 2009 - We have a creek running thru our property and the hill running down to it is about 30 feet tall, in some places almost straight down, some sloping. Some is in shade, some full sun. We would like som...
view the full question and answer

Substitute for Habiturf in Fullerton, CA
March 27, 2015 - Will habiturf grow/thrive in 92835 zip code? I think Im on 10a or 10b hardiness. I have clay soil. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Low maintenance grass for shade in Conroe, TX
September 15, 2012 - What is the best low maintenance grass to plant in front lawn shaded, no traffic area?
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