En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
5 ratings

Thursday - July 01, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: When to mow native prairie grasses in Florence, Texas
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Mark Simmons

QUESTION:

What is best time of year, if any, to mow a native grass prairie? 40 acre creek bottom planted with little bluestem, sideoats, prairie dropseed, love grass, switchgrass, bluegrama, sand dropseed plus lots of wildflowers and misc. grasses and forbs. Located near Florence Tx (west of Georgetown) Thanks

ANSWER:

 All of the prairie grasses you name—Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem), Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed)Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) and Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)—are warm season grasses that are either blooming or getting ready to bloom now at the beginning of summer.  If you want them to reseed your plot, you don't want to mow them now. If you are seeing a lot of tall weeds in your grasses that you want to remove and you can set your tractor/mower high enough to avoid cutting your grasses, you could mow those down. 

Frequency of mowing your prairie grasses depends on all kinds of conditions. As a general rule most Hill Country native grasses can be mowed at least once a year. However, if you want the species to drop its mature seed, then the mowing should occur after flowering and seed set and at least 1/2 the seeds have fallen from the plants. The timing of this event depends on the species. You can monitor your grasses to know when this has happened. 

The short answer then for the grasses you name—if you want your grasses to reseed—is that December through mid-February is the best time to mow to avoid losing seeds.  If you don't care whether they reseed (they are all perennials), then you could actually mow anytime.

There are two entries in our How to Articles that should be useful to you:  1) Recreating a Prairie and 2) Meadow Gardening.

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Groundcover for Laredo Texas
July 04, 2011 - I am in Laredo, TX and no longer want to waste water on grass. I would like to pull it all out and plant native, drought resistant ground cover - low growing, between 6-12 inches, sun and partial sha...
view the full question and answer

Low-maintenance grass for retention pond
December 21, 2012 - I would like to know what would be a low-growing grass to put down for a water retention pond. We have clay and rocky soil. The incline of the sides of the retention pond are about 20 feet with gra...
view the full question and answer

Mixture of native grasses as opposed to buffalo grass monoculture
November 26, 2003 - My husband and I just built our home on Lake Travis. Our lot is very rocky and is on the side of a hill. We would like to plant something on the incline at the front of our home that doesn't need a l...
view the full question and answer

Do I need to cover my Habiturf planting with straw?
March 02, 2012 - I'm preparing to seed the Habiturf in my front yard in a couple of weeks. My dad has suggested I spread some straw to help protect the seeds. Your thoughts? Thanks!!!
view the full question and answer

Need help with dying clumps of Cedar Sedge
June 24, 2015 - Carex planostachys. This grass was planted 2 years ago in light shade. It grew well until this year. Now some clumps are dying. Others in same area look fine. No insects can be detected. Why are...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center