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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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Saturday - May 25, 2013

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Replacement for non-native maiden grasses from Fredericksburg TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am trying to replace some maiden grasses that died during the drought. I want an evergreen grass or something soft looking to replace them. I want something that is native and 5 to 6 feet tall to serve as a screen to the street. Would you please suggest something? Thank you!

ANSWER:

Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer that was also looking for a replacement for maiden grass. Apparently, plants referred to as "maiden grass" all are members of the Poaceae (grass) familly. specifically, Miscanthus sinensis, which is native to southeast Asia. That question came from Brazoria County TX, which possibly has different soils and rainfall from Gillespie County, and you are asking for a taller grass, so we will go to our Native Plant Database. scroll down the page to the Combination Search, select on Texas for the state, "grass or grass-like" for Habit, "dry" for Soil Moisture and a size range of 3 ft to 6 ft. We will add "evergreen" to our initial search, but cannot promise that we will get any at all, grasses are seldom evergreen. We will also check the USDA Plant Profile Map on each plant to ensure that it grows in or near Gillespie County and can therefore be expected to do well in your climate, rainfall and soils.

We were right, that search yielded exactly one plant: Dasylirion texanum (Texas sotol). It is a desert perennial, but it does grow in Gillespie County, according to this USDA Plant Profile Map.  It might be just what you want, but we will go back and eliminate "evergreen" from our search to give you some more choices.

Tall grasses for Gillespie County:

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (Silver beard grass)

Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Lindheimer's muhly)

Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem)

Tridens flavus (Purpletop tridens)

Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn its growing conditions, expected mature growth height, etc. You did not list the amount of sunlight the area will get, that could affect whether all these grasses would do well there, so be sure and check for Light Requirements on each page.

 

From the Image Gallery


Texas sotol
Dasylirion texanum

Silver beard grass
Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

Lindheimer's muhly
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Purpletop tridens
Tridens flavus

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