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

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

Native Hill Country grasses, flowers for April garden show
March 17, 2005 - I will be a first ever (!) exhibitor in my garden club's garden show this April 7. Our theme is The Passion of Texas - my specific category is The Hill Country. Help!!! All materials I use must be al...
view the full question and answer

Native turf grass for Austin
March 24, 2014 - I am installing a xeriscape landscape in my yard. It will be in full sun and I am looking for an alternative to turf, such as monkey grass. However, I am concerned about the light. Suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for Salem IN
September 02, 2014 - We've recently had a new pond dug. It is on a hill side and has some very steep and tall banks. We were advised that our best chance of keeping soil from eroding was to plant fescue. I'm not thrille...
view the full question and answer

Indiangrass by seed or plugs in Greenville SC
October 18, 2009 - Mr Smarty Plants, is it better to establish Indiangrass by plugs or seed? Seems you would get much quicker coverage by seed, tending to choke out "strangers". I'm establishing a small native mea...
view the full question and answer

Container plants for Yakima WA
May 11, 2013 - My condo complex has purchased large, pottery pots for around our pool. I need to choose low maintenance plants. hopefully something that takes limited water, etc.
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