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
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

Need suggestions for plants for bioswales in Philadelphia, PA
August 24, 2015 - Hello, Are there a handful of species you would recommend for inclusion in bioswales throughout the US? I realize plants need to be selected based on climate, but I'm wondering if there are two or...
view the full question and answer

Seed Habiturf on top of existing St. Augustine from Austin
January 26, 2012 - We don't want to rip up an existing St. Augustine lawn (potential HOA problems), but we'd like to go native grasses (like Habiturf?). Is there anything we can just seed on top of our present lawn a...
view the full question and answer

Native grass mix for Bastrop County, TX
February 25, 2014 - I plan to put in a small lawn on a tract of land near Rosanky, TX in Bastrop County. There are scattered oaks but the yard space will be mostly open. Soil is basically sandy. Is there a good native...
view the full question and answer

Stream Bank Erosion Control for Bryan/College Station
August 16, 2012 - I live in the Bryan/College Station area and need a ground cover to abate erosion on the bank of an intermittent stream. The bank is shaded. Do you have any suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Salt-tolerant plants in Central Texas
September 16, 2009 - Do you have any suggestions for salt-tolerant plants in Central Texas? Thanks.
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