Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - January 20, 2011

From: Grinnell, IA
Region: Midwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Short to Medium Height Grasses for Iowa
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

What short to medium height native grass can be planted in late fall at the same time I sow my wildflower seed?

ANSWER:

The challenge for you is not going to be deciding what to plant, it will be what not to plant. Many grasses will do well in Iowa.

Here's how you can come up with a list: go to Wildflower.org, hover the cursor over Explore Plants until a drop down menu appeared then clicked on Plant Database. Scroll down to Combination Search, select Iowa as the state, select Grass/Grass Like from the drop down menu under Habit. For Height, let's select 0 - 1 ft. and 1 - 3 ft. Let's assume you will be planting in full sun and your soil is dry. Make those selections in the search criteria, then submit the search.

When I did this, it returned 17 results. If you change the assumptions about sun and soil you may come up with more or less.

You can then click on the individual species to see pictures, descriptions, etc. of the plants the search identified.

Probably the best way to narrow your list of candidates down is to see what seeds are available. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center maintains a list of suppliers of native plants and seeds here: Native Plant Suppliers Directory. One seed supplier is Native American Seed. They have a great selection of grass seeds and grass seed mixtures.

Late fall is an ideal time to sow your grass seed.

Here are some examples:


Aristida purpurea


Bouteloua curtipendula


Bromus kalmii

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Grass mixture for Spicewood TX
August 14, 2012 - I want to seed a bare sand limestone area about 2 acres in size. Assuming "normal" Texas hill country weather and the availability of moderate water for sprinkling is there one mixture that you reco...
view the full question and answer

Native Plants for Year Round Interest
February 16, 2015 - I'm involved in a paradigm shift from traditional bedding plants (petunias, zinnias, begonias, etc.) to native plants. I realize that native plants have natural life cycles where they look pretty bad...
view the full question and answer

Growing native grasses in containeers in Illinois
May 16, 2007 - Hi. How well would native grasses grow in container gardens in Illinois? What soil would you suggest? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Native grasses for Gilmer TX
March 01, 2009 - I would like to get some native grasses growing on our farm that are good for wildlife - barnyard grass - sedges - smartweed - have read and heard that all I need to do is disc and fertilize - yes/no ...
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

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.