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
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

Restoring tornado-damaged property in Alexander City AL
January 29, 2012 - Dear Mr Smartypants, We were struck by the outbreak of tornadoes last spring and our wonderful woods are now unsightly sloping pastures with erosion problems.. many stumps and coils of roots. We are...
view the full question and answer

Low growing erosion control plants for lakeside in Washington Township NJ
May 12, 2013 - I live on a small lake in Northern NJ and have installed beautiful Boulders along the water to help stop erosion. Now I want to add plants along the property but would like low growing, soil retentio...
view the full question and answer

Suggested plants for between flagstones in Austin, TX
March 24, 2007 - I would like to plant something between my flagstones on patio. I am taking up the cement mortar and want something that doesn't require a lot of water, low growing, and can stand a little traffic. ...
view the full question and answer

Grass for area under pecans in Abilene, TX
January 01, 2009 - I have two large pecan trees in my back yard. Grass has always been hard to grow under these two trees, but lately all grass seems to have "vanished" and I'm left with mostly bare soil. Is there ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for steep slope in Virginia
October 24, 2008 - Please help! Looking for landscaping ideas for a very large Steep hill. Features: slope is approximately 45-60 degrees, clay soil mixed with fill dirt, lots of deer, partial sun, seeking minimal maint...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center