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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - March 22, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Using corn gluten to suppress weeds in buffalo grass, blue grama and curly mesquite
Answered by: Julie Krosley and Nan Hampton


I own a home in central Austin and am replacing my St. Augustine lawn with a native grass blend of Buffalo, Blue Grama, and Curly Mesquite as a pre-emptive attack for the inevitable drought conditions this summer. I understand that the native grasses do not need supplemental fertilization and that applying such fertilizer can encourage invasive species such as Bermuda, and others that my neighbors lawns seem to contain in abundance, to move in. After germination of the grass seed could I or should I apply corn gluten meal to suppress the germination of weed seeds until the grass becomes established even though it contains a significant nitrogen component or am I just complicating the matter?


Corn gluten is a pre-emergent that is applied twice a year, in the late winter (late Jan.-mid-Feb.) and in the fall (mid-to-late Sept.).  It is slow acting so applying it in the late spring-early summer may catch a few of the weeds coming up during the establishment phase of the grass, but not a lot.  We would suggest hand pulling the weeds or a carefully applied spot treatment of herbicide on the more persistent ones. You can then put out the corn gluten in September.

The addition of the extra nitrogen in the corn gluten shouldn't be a concern.  The Wildflower Center does use corn gluten on its buffalograss plots (see the answer to a previous question).


More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Non-native ligustrum in non-native fescue in Medina TX
May 22, 2013 - Is there an effective way to kill baby ligustrums coming up in my fescue yard without harming the grass?
view the full question and answer

Prospects for newly-seeded Habiturf lawn from Round Rock TX
March 17, 2012 - Re: Habiturf installation Can you provide feedback about how my newly seeded Habiturf lawn should look at various stages? I think I prepped the lawn properly, but I may have planted too early (...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for grass under non-native weeping willow from Yorba Linda CA
April 24, 2012 - What would be a good replacement for the grass currently growing under a weeping willow? Something requiring low maintenance, the problem is with mowing over and around the roots.
view the full question and answer

Tropical Texas landscape from Houston
March 04, 2013 - Do you know of any public (or at least photographed) place in Texas that has been landscaped entirely with native "tropical-looking" (i.e. evergreen but NOT conifer and NOT succulent/arid) species? ...
view the full question and answer

Is Sedum recommended for a greenroof project in Houston
July 23, 2008 - Would you recommend using Sedum for a green roof project in Houston, Texas? Will the humidity effect the sedum? If sedum would be a poor choice, what would you recommend for Houston?
view the full question and answer

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