Explore Plants

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
    
 

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:

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

What is pulling Indian Grass out of a park in Washington DC?
June 29, 2011 - We are renovating a park in Washington, DC on the waterfront. We have planted Sorghastrum Nutans (Indian Grass). During the evening/overnight something is pulling the plants from the ground. It is onl...
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control with perennials for a shady Dallas bank
July 25, 2013 - Thank you for your help with turf or perennials on a shaded bank, 4000 sq ft, for the Dallas area that has good roots, grows in semi shade to shade, is on a steep bank so cannot mow, and flowers the l...
view the full question and answer

Slope Erosion control for Fairview NC
August 19, 2012 - Please recommend plants to help with soil erosion on a slope. The soil is red clay and area gets full sun. The slope is approximately 12' x 12'. I live in Fairview, NC
view the full question and answer

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

Weeds in Buffalograss from Edmond OK
September 20, 2012 - We have a patch of buffalograss surrounded by patio/flower garden/vegetable garden. We like B-grass, but are getting a lot of weeds despite preemergents, and some bermuda had appeared. Are there h...
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.