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
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - September 21, 2010

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Problems with Mexican feathergrass in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

All of my mexican feathergrass plants have died or gone dormant, laying down flat for the most part. Any idea what's going on with them?

ANSWER:

Without knowing exactly under what conditions your Nassella tenuissima (Mexican feathergrass) is growing, it's hard to say. Here is what our Native Plant Database page on this plant has to say:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil Description: Well-drained, acid or calcareous sands, loams, or clays.
Conditions Comments: Requires good drainage and cant take excessive moisture. Should not be watered heavily more than once a week. Goes dormant during drought and in winter. May rot under heavy mulch. Grows well in containers."

You will note that it goes dormant during drought and in winter. Until it finally started raining last week, this summer has been very dry. How long have they been planted? If they are recently planted, perhaps they were planted when it was too hot, or do not have good drainage in their beds. If water stands for a while on the ground when you water, it is a sign that clay soil underneath is not draining well, and this plant cannot tolerate water standing on its roots. If the grasses are in a sprinkler system area, and getting more than the once a week watering, that could be a problem. It also doesn't like heavy mulch. We would suggest that you trim down the grasses to about 6", pretending that it is winter. This will take some stress off the plant, so it is not trying to get water up to higher portions of the plant. Then, only water them once a week, and not that if there has been regular rain. Let the water dribble into the plant area from a hose, and don't water them from an overhead sprinkler system if you can avoid it. Notice in the pictures below that the feathergrasses have various positions of "standing up," with some portions of the plant on the ground and/or turning brown.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Nassella tenuissima


Nassella tenuissima

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plants for hanging flower boxes from Austin
July 27, 2013 - I have two long flower boxes 17" x 15" x 25 feet long one on the north side of the apt and one on the south made of metal suspended about four feet from the ground. One will get the morning sun and ...
view the full question and answer

Shade ground cover under honeysuckle from Wichita KS
February 21, 2012 - Hi! I know this is a bit odd, but I am trying to find a nontoxic, good ground covering plant that can live in the shade while competing with the roots of a whole bunch of honeysuckle. I have a few ide...
view the full question and answer

Grasses for dry bottom detention ponds
December 15, 2007 - I am working on a project for my HOA in order to reduce mowing costs and to beautify our neighborhood. We were wondering if you could help us find people knowledgeable about dry bottom detention pond...
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Need plants to control erosion on a hillside in Nashville, TN.
February 28, 2012 - Recently, a rogue contractor scraped all the sod off of my Tennessee hillside. Now the clay soil is exposed and washing away quickly. The hill slope is approximately 30 degrees. In the spring I'd ...
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