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
2 ratings

Monday - March 21, 2011

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Setaria scheelei grass for San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

It seems that ornamental grasses for dry shady places are few and far between. Southwestern Bristlegrass (Setaria scheelei) is exactly what I'm looking for and would solve all my problems! Only I can't figure out how to acquire this lovely plant. Native seed suppliers don't seem to carry it and I don't see it on your Spring Plant Sale list. Might it be available at the Fall Sale? How else might I go about solving this little dilemma?

ANSWER:

Okay, we see what you're saying. Even the list of 652 plants that grow on the grounds of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does not include Setaria scheelei (Southwestern bristlegrass). We went to our usual first resort for grass seeds, Native American Seeds, Grasses, and they don't list it, either. Native American Seed always has a tent where they sell seeds at our Plant Sales, but if it's not in their catalog, it seems unlikely that they will have it with them at the Spring or the Fall Sale.

So, we dug a little further. Under Native Mixes,  NAS has a Shade-Friendly Mix of grasses, including Setaria macrostachya, Plains Bristlegrass, which we do not have in our Native Plant Database. Here is some more information on Plains Bristlegrass.

We don't want to throw cold water on your project, but we don't think you should expect any plant to solve all your problems, garden or otherwise. A grass mix designed for dry shady places would be far more predictable and reliable than putting all your eggs in one grass. We recommend you at least consider the shade mix from NAS. It includes the following grasses. Those that are in our database are links to the pages on those plants, so you can study their growing conditions and requirements as apply to your own situation,

Tridens flavus (Purpletop tridens)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye or canada wild rye)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye)

Setaria macrostachya

Nassella leucotricha (Texas wintergrass)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Tridens flavus


Chasmanthium latifolium


Elymus canadensis


Bouteloua curtipendula


Elymus virginicus


Nassella leucotricha

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Evergreen ground cover for San Antonio
August 03, 2011 - Is there a short, evergreen, drought tolerant ground cover which will tolerate light traffic that can be used instead of grass? San Antonio, Texas
view the full question and answer

Plants for 60 degree slope in Mobile, AL
February 09, 2010 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants,I live on an eroding 60 foot bluff in USDA Zone 8A, along Mobile Bay (AL). To address erosion problems we are using a gabion-style product called "Green Terramesh," which is ...
view the full question and answer

Bunch grasses for labyrinth that are good for livestock
September 29, 2013 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm designing an outdoor labyrinth that will be in full sun in our black Slidell clay soil here in north central Texas. The area MAY be mowed for hay at a later date (i.e...
view the full question and answer

Native bamboos from Scroggins TX
December 16, 2012 - Can you please recommend a NATIVE bamboo for NE Tx? We live in the Piney Woods in a lake community.
view the full question and answer

Erosion Control for a Shaded Slope in Aliquippa PA
May 07, 2014 - What plants. shrubs or trees can I plant to retard soil erosion on a steep shaded hillside in PA
view the full question and answer

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