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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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Friday - April 02, 2010

From: Corpus Christi, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for South Texas Coast
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Grasses S. Texas Coast. Hello! I love all of the information available in your database Mr. Smarty Plants database (as well as the rest of the site) and find it quite useful on many fronts. My question has been addressed before but I didn't like the answer and I wanted to see what the next best options are.. I'm on a construction site that calls for the ground to be reseeded with bermuda and rye grasses, but from what I can tell neither of those are native/adapted for the Texas coast. Can I use one of the seed mixes from Native American Seed and it still work well and "unattended" after establishment on the coast? Thank you!

ANSWER:

Thank you for the kind words!  Mr. Smarty Plants applauds your intention to use native grasses instead of the non-native Cynodon dactylon (bermudagrass) and Lolium sp. (ryegrass).  Native American Seed's Coastal Prairie Mix sounds perfect for your purpose.  Not only does it have beautiful native grasses [e.g., Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem), Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge bluestem)] but the seeds were collected from the coastal prairie area from varieties well-adapted to the soils, the humidity and general climate of the area.  Additionally, there are forbs/wildflowers included in the mix [e.g., Chamaecrista fasciculata (partridge pea), Croton monanthogynus (prairie tea)].  You should realize that  several of the grasses—e.g., Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)—are tall (6 to 8 feet) so your area is not going to look like an area planted in bermudagrass and ryegrass.  The tall grasses are beautiful to see, however, especially mixed with the other grasses and forbs/wildflowers and you will be helping to re-establish coastal prairie habitat for birds and other wildlife. Your question is very timely, by the way,  because now is the time to sow the seeds—in time for the spring rains.

 

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