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

Wednesday - July 24, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Problem with Habiturf. Is it dormant or dead?
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Mark Simmons


We planted habiturf in spring 2012. It's beautiful. But since last summer, we have had one area that seems to go dormant much more rapidly than the rest, even though it receives the same amount of water, same treatments, no major difference in sunlight. Today, after a half inch of rain yesterday, this area has turned a deep brown, (never did this before) and now appears to be spreading. Any idea what's happening? Could you post close-up photos of what the dormant stage is supposed to look like? I have trouble distinguishing between "dead" and "dormant."


I contacted Dr. Mark Simmons, Director of Ecosystem Design Group at the Lady Bird Johsnon Wildflower Center and chief researcher and developer of Habiturf™.  He has Habiturf™ on his own lawn. He says your problem sounds to him like dormancy.  He has a place on his lawn that goes dormant early even though it gets water at the same rate as the rest of the lawn.  The reason that it goes dormant is that there is a large piece of limestone underneath that section so the soil doesn't hold moisture as well.  He doesn't think it is disease.  If it is, it would be a first since there have been no reports of die-off thus far.  Recovery from dormancy can take up to 10 days with available moisture.  At present, Dr. Simmons is out of town but he will try to post photos of dormant grass when he is back at the Wildflower Center.


More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plants that will grow in clay in North Carolina
March 14, 2008 - I have a small fenced back yard, predominately hard red clay, that is a major focal point. I am designing my own garden/yard area (to cut cost) and have a list of plants that will grow in this soil w...
view the full question and answer

Controlling erosion in Leburn KY
July 21, 2009 - I would really appreciate advice on controlling a serious erosion problem in eastern Kentucky. The slope is north facing, shady and moist with rich soil. Would prefer to use native Kentucky plants. ...
view the full question and answer

Native flower bed with part sun
December 05, 2008 - I have recently put in three small flower beds and replaced the hard clay with decent dirt. The site is shaded in the AM but mostly sun in the PM. I would like to plant natives - what can you recommen...
view the full question and answer

Encouraging native grasses to flourish
August 23, 2007 - We have been trying to restore the yard around the house with native grasses and forbs for the last two years. The soil is clay and nothing seems to grow. We have distributed 5 truck loads of mulch, p...
view the full question and answer

Questions on non-native St. Augustine from Austin
October 15, 2013 - I have St. Augustine grass in my yard. I am having work done in my yard soon, which will require new sod. I know the St. Augustine has to take root in the ground before the first freeze, to assure t...
view the full question and answer

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