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
1 rating

Thursday - May 16, 2013

From: Lake Jackson, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native alternative to Japanese grass from Lake Jackson TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Is there a native alternative to Little Kitten maiden grass? I was asked to comment on a plan and don't want them to introduce another Japanese plant into our local habitat.

ANSWER:

Before we could answer your question we first had to determine what the non-native grass is to which you refer. Turns out it is Miscanthus sinensis 'Little Kitten' which is, indeed, native to eastern Asia. It is a member of the Poaceae (grass) family, and is referred to as a "blooming grass." What it is not, as you have already pointed out, is native to South Texas, in the area of Brazoria County.

Since the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow naturally, we are anxious to find some natives for you to propose as alternatives. These are all members of the Poaceae family and grow in or near Brazoria County. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn its expected mature size, growing conditions, water needs, preferred soil, etc. Since they are native to your area, they are much more likely to do well in your climate, soils and rainfall than grasses from Asia.

Chloris virgata (Feather fingergrass) - 0 - 1 ft. tall

Heteropogon contortus (Tanglehead) - 0 - 1 ft. tall

Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem) -  3 to 6 ft. tall

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem) - 3 to 6 ft. tall

 

From the Image Gallery


Feather fingergrass
Chloris virgata

Tanglehead
Heteropogon contortus

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Need recommendations for native plants on a dry sunny hillside in Baltimore Maryland.
July 28, 2009 - Need native recommendations for sunny, dry hillside for ground cover or shrub in Maryland. Mowing the grass is a pain and an energy waster (and I don't want to be tempted to extend some adjacent exi...
view the full question and answer

Mowable grass to grow under pecan trees in Houston, Texas.
September 07, 2010 - I read your answer on grasses that will grow under pecans, but Iím looking for a grass that will blend in a bit with the rest of our St. Augustine grass yard. Something I can mow. Our pecan trees are ...
view the full question and answer

Buffalograss for Mason County, TX
August 19, 2009 - I am interested in planting buffalo grass at a ranch home in between Mason and Fredericksburg, TX. I've read buffalograss doesn't do well in sandy soils, which this area (Hilda, TX) seems to have a ...
view the full question and answer

Wildflower meadow for birds
September 19, 2008 - I put in a wildflower feed plot for the song birds 3 years ago. We prepared the bed by first using Round Up to kill all the grass then lightly tilled to scratch the surface and planted the wildflower ...
view the full question and answer

Native buffalograss in sandy loam
April 19, 2008 - I am in the Austin area and want to plant Native Texas Buffalo Grass in sandy loam from the Colorado River bed. Will this work?
view the full question and answer

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