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

Saturday - May 16, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native plants for cemetery north of Dallas
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I need something to plant on a grave in a country cemetery north of Dallas. There's no water piped to the site; it's basically just a pasture. I'm hoping to find a native plant that will be fairly low-growing (18 inches at the most), attractive most of the year, and dense enough to discourage other plants. Can you help me, Mr. Plants?

ANSWER:

Frankly, the best thing we can recommend is just another version of what you already have there, which is native grasses. We know there has been more rain north of Dallas than there has here, so maybe they will get enough moisture to survive; obviously, the grasses that are already there have. Whether they will discourage other plants, we can't say. Even when grasses are planted as a landscaping feature in a lawn with water available, weeds have to be pulled and just about any plant needs water when it is first planted. Another possibility is one of the yuccas native to that part of the state. Since they are very tough desert plants, they could probably withstand the neglect better than just about anything, and as they grow, they should shade out the prairie grasses. Since there is a possibility of rain there, if you choose to plant a yucca, you need to make sure the drainage is very good. You almost can't kill a yucca, but if it has water standing on its roots over a period of time, it will die. The disadvantage to the yucca is that it is going to grow taller than your specified 18 inches, and when it blooms (which is pretty spectacular) it will be taller still. That's a decision you will have to make.

We have all heard of the roses planted in cemeteries that survived for many years without any attention. There are native roses, although most of the roses commercially available are highly hybridized plants, largely originating in China. Of those roses native to North America, ("wild roses") only Rosa arkansana var. suffulta (prairie rose) and Rosa carolina (Carolina rose) are native to Texas, and neither of them are shown in the USDA Plant Profiles as growing naturally in the area you are concerned with.

Finally, if none of these is going to work for you, you might consider some curbing and attractive river rocks or small stones. Weeds will still push up through them, but should be fairly easy to keep under control.

Grasses 

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) - 2 to 3 ft. tall

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) - 3 to 12 inches tall, semi-evergreen

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama) - 12 to 14 inches tall

Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass) - 12 to 18 inches tall

Other plants 

Rosa arkansana var. suffulta (prairie rose) - 6 to 18 inches, blooms pink June and July

Rosa carolina (Carolina rose) - 1 to 3 ft. high, blooms pink May and June

Hesperaloe parviflora (redflower false yucca) - not a true yucca, but a member of Century Plant family, 2 to 3 ft. tall, evergreen, flowering stalk rises 5 ft., blooms red, yellow March to May

Yucca rupicola (Texas yucca) - evergreen, under 2 ft. tall, flowering stalks over 5 ft. tall, blooms white, green April to June


Rosa arkansana var. suffulta

Rosa carolina

Hesperaloe parviflora

Yucca rupicola

Bouteloua curtipendula

Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Poa arachnifera

 

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Grasses for Erosion control in Iowa
September 27, 2012 - We have a sloping yard in the midwest that gets 2-4 hours of sun during the warm weather. When we have large rainfalls, the water just pours down the slope causing a lot of erosion to the surrounding ...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen from Simpsonville SC
May 04, 2013 - My neighbor cut down his part of our shared woods so now we see his whole "outside patio area". What kinds of fast growing shade loving trees and shrubs can we plant on our property line that will c...
view the full question and answer

Bird-friendly plants for the Texas coast
July 13, 2012 - I'm interested in starting a native plant garden, specifically with an eye towards providing food (either from the plants or insects that are attracted to the plants) for migratory birds. However, s...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a bank too steep to mow
June 24, 2009 - Like the inquiry made in late June of 2008, mine involves a bank that is too steep to mow. However, ours is facing south. I am looking for a native grass, plant or groundcover. Any suggestions? ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling Groundcover for Phenix AL
March 30, 2014 - Hi I am trying to find a grass or ground cover to control erosion on firing range berms which are 1:1 grade on a firing range outside of Phenix City AL. Sandy clay soil, direct sunlight almost all day...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center