En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Non-native St. Augustine grass failing for 5 years in Houston

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - July 21, 2013

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Non-native St. Augustine grass failing for 5 years in Houston
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My townhome in Houston has a mid-size backyard, which receives full sun for much of the day. I've re-sodded with St. Augustine for 5 consecutive summers, but it consistently dies over time (proper fertilizing and weed control used). Should I give up and try another more resilient grass type? Perhaps Bermuda or something else? Help!! I've spent a lot of money over time and would like a more satisfactory outcome. It's mid-July now. Should I wait to do anything, or can I plant now? Thanks!!

ANSWER:

No kidding? You have been trying and failing to grow a non-native water slurping grass for 5 years and you want Mr. Smarty Plants to tell you what to do? The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown; in your case, Harris County, TX. Even if you had not had trouble growing it, we would have encouraged you to NOT grow it.

From Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture:

"Text and images copyright © Richard Duble. Origin and Distribution. St. Augustine grass is a widely used lawn grass along the Gulf Coast in the U.S., in Southern Mexico, throughout the Caribbean region, South America, South Africa, Western Africa, Australia and the South Pacific and Hawaiian Islands. The species is primarily of tropical origin and is native to sandy beach ridges, fringes of swamps and lagoons, salty and fresh water marshes and limestone shorelines. St. Augustine grass gradually moved inland to naturally open sites such as streambanks, lakeshores and other moist sites. It tolerates a wide range in soil types, but does not withstand waterlogged or droughty sites."

Generally speaking, it is believed to be of African origin and has been widely planted in southern coastal areas of North America. If you can't grow it in Houston, you should try something else. Since is out of our area of expertise, we can only guess that the drought and watering restrictions, too much watering or a problem with the soils may  be causing the constant failure of the grass. Let us refer you to some previous Mr. Smarty Plants answers that may give you some ideas of an alternative strategy. Be sure and follow all the links in each answer. And, by the by, who told you what "proper fertilizing and weed control" was?

Seabrook, TX

Austin, TX

Conroe, TX

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Plants to replace hydrangeas in a wet area in New York
July 09, 2010 - Dear Smarty, Two years ago I planted 4 Endless Summer Hydrangas in front of the front porch of my summer cottage on Saratoga Lake. The first year they struggled the second they are limp. Can you give...
view the full question and answer

Can lantana be grown in British Columbia from Vernon BC
October 20, 2012 - Can I grow lantana in Vernon B.C. Canada?
view the full question and answer

Wintering over a Cuphea ignea in Iowa Zones 4-5
August 29, 2006 - I have a Cigar Plant, or a cuphea. I live in Iowa and need to know how to take care of this plant. Does this plant die and that's it, or does this plant come back year after year?
view the full question and answer

Care for some non-native salvias from Austin
November 12, 2012 - Mexican bush sage and Salvia "indigo spires" are both blooming in my Austin beds right now. Once they stop blooming and/or frost gets them, could you tell me by how much they should be cut back? R...
view the full question and answer

Identifying non-native lichens from Austin
February 23, 2013 - Can you provide help identifying lichens? If not, can you suggest someone who can?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center