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
1 rating

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

Bioswale in Orange CA
September 08, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm looking for plants for a bio-swale in Southern California. Do you have any suggestions for plants that do well in water but can also can handle long dry summers?
view the full question and answer

Hillside Erosion Control for Gainesville GA
August 07, 2013 - I have a steep bare hill and the runoff from it is heavy this year. I need help with a fast growing groundcover that will help control erosion and runoff. Planting on the hill is difficult because you...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of King Ranch bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum)
December 12, 2007 - I ranch approximately 1500 acres of land seven miles southeast of Marble Falls , Texas . At present, the land is inundated with King Ranch Bluestem; which as you know, kills by smothering all other na...
view the full question and answer

Plants native to Galveston that would survive in Austin
December 01, 2008 - What plants are native to the Galveston, Texas region? Can any of those plants survive in the Austin area?
view the full question and answer

Landscaping recommendations for site in Dubuque, IA
March 27, 2010 - I need a seed recommendation. Here are the variables: Location: Dubuque, IA (east Central Iowa) Soil type: Sandy to sandy and gravelly. Part is a riverbank facing east. Steep bank then flat to ...
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
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center