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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.

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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.

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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!

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Thursday - February 07, 2013

From: Spicewood, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Unrecognized grass in Habiturf from Spicewood TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I purchased 2 bags of Habiturf from the Wildflower Center and planted it in late September. Now, early February, the predominant grass is not any of the 3 supposed components of the Habiturf, but looks more like perennial rye. Is it possible that the Habiturf had that seed in it? It is perhaps 80% of the lawn..now with flowering seed heads all over.

ANSWER:

Actually, the Habiturf mix has four native grasses in the mixture: Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss), Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama), Bouteloua hirsuta (Hairy grama) and Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass). Below are three pictures of each grass, in some cases dried specimens from herbariums, so you can see all the details of the seeds and stalks. You can click on any picture and it will take you to an enlarged view of that picture in our Image Gallery. Also, you can click on any of the 4 plant links above to our Native Plant Database webpage on that plant, and get the details of height, planting and maturation times.

Next, if we may ask - did you read the articles and see the videos we have on installation of Habiturf, including preparation of the site in advance and practices in sowing the seeds? Please read these articles and check the instructions and seasons to see if you were in sync:

Native Lawns

Habiturf - The Ecological Lawn

How to Install Habiturf

As we re-read those articles, it appears to us that in the first place, the recommended planting time in Central Texas is Spring, not September. Going along with that, rye grass is frequently planted as a cover grass. If the ground has not been sufficiently prepared with tilling and application of compost as the articles suggested, the rye may have come back and taken over in the Summer before your grass seeds were planted in the Fall. Be sure to watch the video on installing Habiturf.

Hopefully, if it is properly cared for and mowed, the Habiturf will be able to overtake the rye grass (if that is what it is) and out-compete with it.

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Blue grama
Bouteloua gracilis

Hairy grama
Bouteloua hirsuta

Hairy grama
Bouteloua hirsuta

Hairy grama
Bouteloua hirsuta

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

Curly mesquite grass
Hilaria belangeri

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