Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 23, 2009

From: rockland, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Looking for a tall ornamental grass native to Massachusetts.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I am looking for a tall (4-8 ft) ornamental grass, native to Massachusetts/ New England. It needs to be tolerant of moist to wet soil, and preferably colorful. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

We applaud your preference for native plants. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown.

The use ornamental grasses in landscapes is gaining in popularity, and this site from the University of Illinois Extension has a lot of information about their selection and use. However, be aware that several of the genera that they mention are non natives (Pennisetum, Miscanthus, Molina, Lagurus and, Briza).

To find some possibilities for you, lets go to our Native Plant Database and scroll down to the Combination Search box and make these selections; select Massachusetts under State, Grass/grass-like under Habit, Perennial under Duration, Sun under Light requirement, and Moist under Soil Moisture. Click the "submit combination search" button and you will get a list of 56 native plants in Massachusetts that match these characteristics. Clicking on the name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that contains a description of the plant, its habitat and growing conditions, along with images. 

Here are a few to consider:

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) 

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

You can make your own selections and adjust the list by altering the choices.

You might contact the Massachusetts Horticulture Society for further assistance.


Andropogon gerardii

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Panicum virgatum

 

 


Calamagrostis canadensis

 


 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Winter care of native perennials in Austin
October 19, 2008 - Last spring I planted some wildflowers suggested by Deryn Davidson. they did extremely well. I planted-Gulf Muhly,Big Muhly,Red Yucca,Purple Cone Flower,Wine Cup, Large Buttercup And Mealy Blue sage, ...
view the full question and answer

Native fescues and sedges for turf in New York
July 25, 2006 - Hello, Came across your contact info while googling and hoped you could help answer a question or direct me to another resource that can. I am looking to redo my entire landscaping with native NY ...
view the full question and answer

Assessment of Turffalo variety of buffalo grass (Bouteloua dachtyloides)
March 05, 2008 - Dear Mr.Smarty Plants, Now its March 2008, and your trial installation of Turfallo has had a year to prove itself; I'm interested to know your opinion of Turfallo Grass. There are such good e-c...
view the full question and answer

Keeping non-native invasive bermudagrass out of yard in Austin
May 30, 2012 - My neighbor just sodded a huge lawn with Bermuda Celebration. I don't want it coming into my St. Augustine. From what I've read on your site and others, I need a deep barrier. Has anyone tried pu...
view the full question and answer

Chigger Control in Habiturf from Plano, TX
April 08, 2015 - We converted our back yard in Plano, Texas to Habiturf last spring/summer and have a nice lawn; however, for the first time since we have lived in this house for 32 years, the lawn was full of chigger...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.