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

Information about Maui Red Starflower
April 29, 2008 - I can't find any information on MAUI RED STARFLOWER. I found some in Houston Texas & the card says sun, blooms spring to frost, showy bloom, good in clusters. MY QUESTION was to find out if it is a...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to non-native Philodendron selloeum in Deltona FL
June 22, 2010 - My philodendrons selloeum died this past winter in the freeze,came back slowly this spring and now are suffering with very small deformed leaves. Some do grow but are getting large brown dry areas on ...
view the full question and answer

Flowering of pineapple guavas
November 06, 2007 - I have two pineapple guavas in their second year of planting. Both have grown extremely well, but have not flowered. I live in zone 9 near the Gulf and they receive normal irrigation. Do they take ...
view the full question and answer

Alternatives to non-native heather (Calluna vulgaris)
April 27, 2007 - I live in Vernon, BC, Canada. I plan to put a heather plant in my garden, but my space is limited. I know that it will grow approx. 2 ft. high and that it likes well drained and acidic soil, but how...
view the full question and answer

Lists of medicinal plants from New York City
April 11, 2014 - Do you know any resources for lists of medicinal plants native to New York? Thank you
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