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

Need some help with a Buffalo grass planting in Salado, TX
October 23, 2009 - Recently we planted buffalo grass sod in the spring of 2007. During the summer I had a problem with barnyard grass due to a lot of rain. During 2008 I had a problem with nut grass. I had been advise...
view the full question and answer

Native turf grass for Austin
March 24, 2014 - I am installing a xeriscape landscape in my yard. It will be in full sun and I am looking for an alternative to turf, such as monkey grass. However, I am concerned about the light. Suggestions?
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native Centipede grass
February 27, 2013 - My lawn is Centipede. I have created a new lawn area. Can and when should I seed/overseed my lawn? I have Rye in the new area.
view the full question and answer

User comment on native grass mixes from Robstown TX
March 21, 2014 - As a followup to my question on seed spreaders, native grass and prairie seed mixes seem a good fit for my location in far western Nueces County which is more semi-arrid than 30 miles away in Corpus w...
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for South Texas Coast
April 02, 2010 - 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...
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