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
2 ratings

Monday - September 28, 2009

From: Vero Beach, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Plants for bioswale in Vero Beach FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Can you recommend plantings for bioswales located in Volusia County area of Florida?

ANSWER:

Common swales are typically vegetated with turf grass and are a conveyance tool, basically a grassy stormwater sewer that conveys water as quickly as possible from Point A to Point B. A bioswale differs in that the turf grass is replaced with native prairie vegetation. This will significantly reduce the flow velocity (slow down of the runoff) in the swale’s drainage course. The residence time of the runoff is thus increased, which gives it the time to be stored, filtered, and infiltrated. These processes remove pollutants and suspended solids from runoff.

We found this information on bioswale construction from the USDA, which shows compost tilled into the native soil (clay, in this instance) to facilitate the drainage. The plants we have selected are all perennial, and will grow in moist soils, but can tolerate some drought. These are plants with fibrous roots that will hold in the soil when water is rushing by, help to slow it down, and permit the pollutants in the water to be filtered out. Follow each link to the page on that individual grass to determine how much sun it needs and what soils it does best in. We have checked to make sure each grass is native in and around Volusia County, so the soils are probably all compatible.

Since our suggestions are basically for prairie grasses, you might be interested in reading our How-To Article Recreating a Prairie, which has instructions for time of year to be planting, preparing the soil, planting and caring for the grasses. When you are ready to begin, go to our Native Plant Suppliers section, put your town and state in the "Enter Search Location" box, and you will get a list of native plant nurseries, seed companies and landscape consultants in your general area who can help you select the right plants for your purpose.

Native grasses for a bioswale in Florida:

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem)

Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)

Muhlenbergia capillaris (hairawn muhly)

Paspalum floridanum (Florida paspalum)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Rhynchospora latifolia (sandswamp whitetop)

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani (softstem bulrush)

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Andropogon glomeratus

Andropogon virginicus

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Paspalum floridanum

Panicum virgatum

Rhynchospora latifolia

Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani

Tripsacum dactyloides

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Habiturf lawn in Carson City, NV
October 15, 2013 - I planted habiturf just south of Reno NV May 5. First two months no or little germination because nite temps too cold. Now doing ok except battling purslane and redstem filaree.. SO, I notice bare/spa...
view the full question and answer

Looking for grasses for slope around retention pond in Florida
August 02, 2011 - I live in St. Petersburg, FL on a large retention pond. Most of my neighbors on the pond have seawalls. I do not nor do my neighbors to my left and right. I am interested in colorful grasses to put...
view the full question and answer

Water eroding corner in Austin
October 25, 2011 - I live close to the Wildflower Center. My yard slopes - as do my neighbors' yards to one corner in my yard. The result is constant moisture in one corner. The rest of the yard is caliche, rocks (m...
view the full question and answer

When to plant grasses on Long Island, NY
December 06, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants; Are there any grass seeds that I can plant NOW, early December, on Long Island, NY? The planting environment is on and near a sandy bluff on a bayshore, where it can be windy ...
view the full question and answer

User comment on native grass mixes from Robstown TX
March 21, 2014 - As a followup to my question on seed spreaders, native grass and prairie seed mixes seem a good fit for my location in far western Nueces County which is more semi-arrid than 30 miles away in Corpus w...
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