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

Most ecological grass to grow in Austin
May 29, 2008 - What kind of grass is most ecological to grow in a neighborhood community in Austin? Is Bermuda good? Is Buffalo good? I live in a rental house and there are some bare spots in the yard that I'd l...
view the full question and answer

Will buffalograss thrive in Ada OK?
May 08, 2013 - Would buffalo grass thrive in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, where my sandy loamie soil struggles with summer droughts?
view the full question and answer

Weed and feed for buffalograss
October 30, 2007 - What is a good winterizer or weed & feed for buffalo grass? I live in Southwest Austin.
view the full question and answer

Looking for a native turf grass for the Houston area
July 25, 2013 - Looking for a native turf grass for the Houston area. In some of your 2012 responses, you stated that "The good news is that research into turf-type grasses native to the coastal region is in the pla...
view the full question and answer

Critter-Proof Native Plants for Virginia Lawn
April 02, 2015 - We live in a gated community that was part of the Wilderness Battlefield during the Civil War. Our home is on a narrow lot, fully treed except for a postage stamp-sized lawn at lake side. We have de...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center