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: Edwardsburg, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native fountain grass for Edwardsburg MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I purchased a purple fountain grass by a vendor @ the Plymouth, IN blueberry festival. He told me that it is a perennial. I live in Edwardsburg, MI and I keep reading that in my area, they are considered annuals. What is correct?? I love this grass and would love to have it back every year without having to re-plant.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the care, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown. Pennisetum setaceum, fountain grass, is native to Africa and Saudi Arabia, among others. The word "Purple" attached to the plant you bought no doubt was a vendor-selected description. Not only is this plant out of our area of expertise, but it is considered a harmful invasive in the areas in which it can be grown, none of which are as far north as Michigan. Read this Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group 'Least Wanted' article on Fountain Grass.

In our Native Plant Database, we have found seven grasses that are similarly attractive to the fountain grass, but are all perennial and all native to Michigan. Follow the links to the page on each grass for more information.

Native ornamental grasses for Michigan

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint) - clump-forming, 3 to 5 ft. tall, purple when in flower, stands up well in winter, sun, part shade or shade More pictures

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) - clump-forming, 3 to 5 ft. tall, part shade or shade

Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hairgrass) - cool season perennial, mostly evergreen, 2 to 3 ft. tall, part sun. More information

Elymus villosus (hairy wildrye) - 3 to 6 ft. tall, partial shade

Hordeum jubatum (foxtail barley) - 1 to 3 ft. tall

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) - ornamental bunchgrass, 18 to 24 inches tall, sun or part shade

Tridens flavus (purpletop tridens) - 3 to 7 ft. tall with purple spikelets, part shade

Pictures from our Native Plant Image Gallery


Calamagrostis canadensis

Chasmanthium latifolium

Deschampsia cespitosa

Elymus villosus

Hordeum jubatum

Schizachyrium scoparium

Tridens flavus

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native Callistemon damaged by freeze in Katy TX
March 30, 2010 - O.K. Smarty pants, Callistemon bought here in Houston Texas froze and will they recover after the freeze? The huge tree is totally brown and about five years old. Do we cut them back or do the leaves ...
view the full question and answer

Is a mulberry tree undesirable?
June 27, 2013 - I have a hard time keeping plants alive, so I was happy when a random plant just started growing and thriving about 5 years ago in my yard. My mom (a frequent volunteer at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildf...
view the full question and answer

Control of Paulownia tomentosa from Westminster MD
October 28, 2011 - I have heard that there is a type of herbicide that is to be applied to slashes made in the outer layer of invasive trees such as Paulownia. This type of application is reputed to prevent the little ...
view the full question and answer

Planting petunias around base of oak tree from Houma LA
March 30, 2013 - I live in south Louisiana and I want to plant petunias. Can I plant petunias around the base of an oak tree?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Oleanders
June 11, 2005 - I have 3 Nerium Oleanders. In the winter they come indoors, and are under grow lights. They are in big pots. We just put them outside on patio, and they don't look good. They still have green tips ...
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