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

Understory plants for Tuolumne Co., CA
May 14, 2007 - My driveway is lined with purple plum trees. I would like to grow something underneath them. What can I grow that will not harm the root system/health of the trees?
view the full question and answer

killing grass on 1 acre before planting Habiturf
March 04, 2012 - I have an acre of full sun lawn on a slight slope in Dallas - would the habiturf be appropriate & if so, how do I go about killing off the existing weeds/crab grass before installing? Removing 3 in o...
view the full question and answer

Alternative for HABITURF® in Contra Costa County, CA
September 17, 2014 - We live in Kensington, just north of Berkeley, in the San Francisco area. We intend to get rid of our water consuming lawn and we are wondering what kind of alternative you would suggest. You don't s...
view the full question and answer

Illinois native grasses for shade
June 27, 2013 - Hello, my grass has died in a very shady area (standard buffalo grass), and I took this as an opportunity to plant some native grass varieties. I originally thought of buffalo grass, but learned that ...
view the full question and answer

Holding bare soil before sowing native grasses in spring.
November 03, 2009 - I want to try your buffalo/bluegrama/curly mesquite. Right now my yard is ploughed. What should I do until spring? I assume I should add living compost to the top 3", plant bluegrass for now, and ...
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