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?


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

Sunday - November 22, 2009

From: Paris, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Vinca minor and St. Augustine grass
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe


Will St. Augustine grass choke out vinca minor?


The focus and expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is limited to plant species native to North America. Vinca minor(common periwinkle) is a native of Europe and out of our area of expertise. Stenotaphrum secondatum(St. Augustine grass), is of uncertain enough provenance that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does not include it in its Native Plant Database. It wouldn't thrive in settings where it faces long dry periods, especially in full sun, without lots of supplemental water.

As to which plant would dominate, we tend to think that it depends on the setting and timing. If the site has good conditions for Stenotaphrum secondatum(St. Augustine grass), and the grass is well-established and dense, it might resist invasion by Vinca minor(common periwinkle) pretty well. If the Vinca minor(common periwinkle) is the established plant, or if the site stresses the grass, the  Vinca minor(common periwinkle) is likely to dominate.

Perhaps you are looking for a new solution to a problem spot? Try looking at the  Native Plant Database for some ideas.... It's in the Explore Plants section. When you get there you can use a couple of methods to look for plants suitable for your site. By narrowing the search to the type(s) of plants you are looking for – grasses, shrubs, etc. – and choosing specific site conditions – sun, soil moisture – you can generate a list of native plants suited to your needs. You can further narrow by using the Recommended Native Species  function to select plants that thrive in your part of Texas.


More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native plants for bioswale in Tennessee
September 02, 2008 - What native plants do you recommend for a bioswale in Tennessee?
view the full question and answer

Xeriscaping in clay on a slope in Fort Worth
April 06, 2006 - Xeriscaping in clay (Fort Worth) on a slope -- Please offer suggestions and publications. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Lawn for a Shady & Wet area in Austin, TX
July 22, 2015 - We have a drainage area that has appeared in our back yard since the neighbors’ homes were built. When we get heavy rains (like this year) all their drainage flows into our back yard and forms a river...
view the full question and answer

Non-native invasive chickweed in Collegeville PA
December 31, 2011 - My problem is chickweed. I have found considerable information on how to eliminate the chickweed. My question is after following a suggested elimination process: How and when do I reseed with grass?...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses palatable for horses and eliminating KR bluestem.
January 11, 2008 - Looking for native Texas grasses which are palatable for horses, to overseed in areas which are currently overrun with KR bluestem. What are the best grasses and best way to accomplish this? (SW Gi...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center