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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - December 10, 2009

From: Humble, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grass mix suitable for Houston
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Do you have a native grass mix that is appropriate to the Houston area- or will the one you have developed to this point work as well here as it does in Central Texas? If not, when will you begin to develop such a grass for this area? Best regards.

ANSWER:

Indeed, we do! Dr. Mark Simmons, Wildflower Center ecologist, has been leading the research to determine the best mix for native turf grass for Texas and the winners are:  Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama), and Hilaria belangeri (curly-mesquite).  There are caveats, however—all three of these grasses love the sun and don't do well in shade (less than 2 hours or sun per day) or part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun per day) and buffalograss doesn't like sand.  If your lawn has shady areas, you can use a shade-tolerant groundcover in that area and use the turf mix in the sunny areas. If your lawn is extremely sandy, you will need to add compost to the sand for buffalograss to do well.  Indeed, adding compost to your soil, no matter what its major component is, is a good idea.  Please see our How to Article, Native Lawns, for more information about creating a native lawn with these grasses.  The article also gives links to seed companies that carry seeds for these grasses.  Here are a few suggestions for shade-loving groundcovers:

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy)

Phyla nodiflora (turkey tangle fogfruit)

Rivina humilis (rougeplant)

Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee sedge)

You can see more native plants for the Houston area from the Native Plant Society of Texas-Houston Chapter.

Here are photos from our Image Gallery:


Bouteloua dactyloides

Bouteloua gracilis

Hilaria belangeri

Calyptocarpus vialis

Phyla nodiflora

Rivina humilis

Carex cherokeensis

 

 

 

 

 

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