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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - April 28, 2012

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Seeds and Seeding, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Making sod from native grass seeds from Pflugerville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I am trying to install a native lawn. A story on KVUE suggested 2 lb Buffalo, 1.5 lb Blue Grama, and 6 oz of Curly Mesquite. I have some seeds purchased from seedsource.com about 2 years ago. I can get the Buffalo grass to grow with little problem. The other two not so much. What is the magic incantation to get the other two to grow? Could the seeds be too old? I think my best bet is to try to make my own sod (I think I can get them to grow on my side yard which is in the shade in the afternoon and will not thus cook them). Any ideas where to find sod forms?


Let's start at the beginning. You probably heard about Habiturf. Read the linked article through for instructions on planting it. It is recommended for seeding only on well-prepared soil. Another article on Native Lawns discuss the research that went into the development of this grass. Neither article mentions the precise portions of the three grass seeds that are combined, but your numbers sound like a fair approximation of the proportions.

From Native American Seed, you can see Native Sun Turfgrass, which is composed of 80% buffalograss and 20% blue grama seeds, no curly mesquite.

We heard that those who purchased native grass turf squares frequently found them pre-infested with nutgrass, not a desirable addition to the combination. We don't think making your own sod is really practical, and don't know a source for sod forms. Also, in your situation, you probably don't have enough sun in your side yard for the grasses to flourish; they need 5 to 6 hours of sun a day.

On the subject of viability of the 2-year old seeds, we could find very little hard information. This USDA Forest Service website on Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass) has only one short comment on the seeds:

"Curlymesquite has good soil binding qualities and grows on most soils, so it has potential as a rehabilitation species. Commercial seed is hard to get, so mulching with hay is the most economical seed source. Also, curlymesquite is not drought resistant, so revegetated sites need sufficient irrigation." The article also mentioned that the plant is shade intolerant and seedling vigor is "medium," whatever that means.

We had about the same luck trying to find out much about the seeds of Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama). All we found on the USDA Forest Service on this plant about seeding was: "Blue grama is readily established from seed, but depends more on vegetative reproduction."

We did find an article on Maintaining Grass Seed Viability from Oregon State University. In summary, we do not have a magic incantation for getting those two grasses to grow; you might contact the original source for your seed to see what they recommend.



From the Image Gallery

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

More Seed and Plant Sources Questions

Plants for centerpieces that can be planted in a garden
August 14, 2009 - I want to purchase flowers in Crossville, Tennessee to use as centerpieces and then plant in my garden. What are the best suggestions to do so?
view the full question and answer

Want to take cuttings from Yaupon in Tomball, TX.
August 06, 2010 - From Tomball, Texas - we have a very shaded back yard and would like some lower growing shrubbery as a screen for the neighbors. Wild yaupon holly is growing well on the fringes and I would like to f...
view the full question and answer

Books and other resources to identify plants in Washington state
November 02, 2009 - We live just north of Seattle, WA on Camano Island and want to do a plant survey of our two acres. Any suggestions of books or other resources, particularly for the grasses and low growing plants? A...
view the full question and answer

Seed source for thistles in San Marcos TX
April 07, 2010 - Where can I buy thistle seeds?
view the full question and answer

Source for Orbexilum from Hempstead TX
July 22, 2010 - I am looking for a source of plants or seed for a Texas native plant: Mountain Pea, orbexilum sp. (nova). Thank you,
view the full question and answer

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