En Español

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?


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
1 rating

Thursday - July 27, 2006

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Control of grasses in wildflower gardening
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus


We have been trying to manage and grow a plot of wildflowers in Madisonville, Texas just east of Bryan / College Station on a charity organizations site for 3 years with some success. The grasses have been difficult to control and we are embarking on a spraying campaign this season. What is the best times of year to do this for best control of the various strains of grasses?


You don't say whether the grasses are native or non-native. We recommend you read the article, "Wildflower Meadow Gardening", in our Native Plant Library. This article recommends that a wildflower meadow have from 50 to 80% native grasses. The grasses provide support and protection for the wildflowers, prevent soil erosion, and occupy spaces that would otherwise be filled by weeds. If your meadow is full of bermuda, St. Augustine, annual rye, or other non-native species, you do need to try to get rid of those. If you have native grasses such as Bluestems (Andropogon spp.) or Gramas (Bouteloua spp.), you probably can control them by mowing. You can mow after the all annual and biennial wildflower species have flowered and set seed. This will insure that the seeds are sown for next spring's wildflower blooms.

With many different types of herbicide on the market, it is not possible to give you a blanket answer for when to use them. The answer really depends on the species of grass you want to control and the herbicide you intend to use. The labels of all herbicides give very specific instructions on timing and application of the chemical you intend to use. Finally, while the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does not take a specific stand on the use of chemicals in the landscape other than to urge our patrons to carefully follow label directions if they choose to use them, we do not make recommendations for the use of specific chemicals, either.


More Wildflowers Questions

Is Annual Rye Choking Out Wildflowers in Austin?
January 15, 2011 - We live about 3 miles from the wildflower center on 3 acres and there is a natural area on our property that gets a lot of wildflowers. Last winter we threw out annual rye seed to have some greenery ...
view the full question and answer

More on bluebonnets
July 01, 2005 - I've seen several recommendtions for using a Bluebonnet Inoculant when planting Bluebonnets. "For best success, we strongly suggest using Bluebonnet inoculant (to assist in fixing nitrogen into soi...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping in Bertram TX
September 25, 2009 - I have a landscaping job in Bertram, Texas and am looking for all my options as far as full and partial shade somewhat hardy plants. I'm mainly looking for small plants and pretty flowers I can do wi...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnets in Hampton VA?
July 12, 2014 - I gave my mom Blue Bonnet seeds for her yard in Hampton VA. She is on a mission to have no lawn and loves flowers. The seeds say to plant in Texas August-November. But, when should she plant them i...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower Seed Planting in Austin in April
April 30, 2015 - What wildflower seeds can I plant in April? Is there a schedule?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center