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
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - September 20, 2009

From: Dripping Springs, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for horses
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have 7ac with big and little bluestem. I'm told big is bad. And my horse eats ground veg and not the bluestem. So I'd love to replant the entire tract with something for the horse, deer, and native critters but don't know what. Was suggested to me tuffalo. But I didn't know if that was good for hill country land, and/or the native critters. Any advice? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is considered to be one of the most nutritious of the prairie grasses according to the Forages of Texas - North Central from the Texas AgriLife Research Center and Extension Service at Stephenville. Turffalo is a cultivar of buffalograss developed by Texas Tech University and Frontier Hybrids Engineered Turfgrass. The Wildflower Center has had a plot of Turfallo that we have been testing now for a couple of years.  You can see an assessment of it in the answers to previous Mr. Smarty Plants questions in 2008 and 2009

Your best bet might be to go with a mixture of native grasses rather than try to create a monoculture.  Here are other native grasses that Forages of Texas - North Central considers highly palatable for livestock:

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Their assessment of Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) does not list palatability as one of its assets, rather it is recommended for wildlfe habitat.

You can read more information about horses and native grasses in "Are You Feeding Your Horse Like a Cow?"  A cautionary note—although most native grasses are desirable to feed your horses, there are some grasses and other plants, both native and non-native, that you should avoid for your pasture. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation has compiled a list of Poisonous Plant Considerations.

Native American Seeds in Junction, Texas offers a good variety of native grass seeds and grass seed mixes for sale.


Bouteloua dactyloides

Tripsacum dactyloides

Sorghastrum nutans

Bouteloua curtipendula

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Allowing Habiturf to seed out in Austin TX or Austin OR
November 21, 2013 - What does it mean to let habiturf "go to seed?" Do I need to wait for all the seeds to drop before that is true? Or, if I mow it when there are seed heads, will those seeds provide new plants in the...
view the full question and answer

Landscaper recommends non-native zoysia in Austin
April 05, 2013 - My landscaper recommends using "zoysia" grass throughout my new lawn, in full shade, partly shaded, and non-shaded areas, including in the gaps between leuder stone walks. I haven't heard about th...
view the full question and answer

Use of Turffalo in Possum Kingdom TX
June 27, 2013 - Hello, we will be building a retirement home in the hillside area of Possum Kingdom Lake which currently has cactus, cedar, and some live oaks. Our intention is to keep most of the 8 acres natural wi...
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

Restoring disturbed land in Marshall, TX.
December 04, 2014 - I have a 30 acre tract of land in Marshall, Texas. The oil company has turned 2-3 acres surrounding the rig into gravel. I would like to return the gravel area to green space. Any suggestions on gras...
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