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?

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 18, 2013

From: Sparta, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Grass for a Miniature Garden
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Please let me know what kind of grass is nice and short and tight for a miniature garden in a wooden box. I want to grow this grass in the box and I also want to know if I need to drill holes in the bottom of the wooden box for drainage. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Many people who create bonsai, penjing (Chinese miniature landscapes) or garden railroads that require plants to be of a scale that looks appropriate use moss or dwarf Carex sp. (miniature sedges) to simulate grass-like groundcovers. There aren't any grasses that will stay short and dense enough to be in scale for most projects.

There are some native sedges that look like grass such as Carex pensylvania, but look at the heights to make sure they are in scale. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's website has 217 entries for native Carex (sedges), 27 that are under 1 ft. To view these, visit the Plant Database, enter Carex and select the 0-1 ft height category. You might like to look at the Juncus and Sagina (pearlworts) as well. Juncus ambiguus is under 1 ft in height and has a grasslike appearance.  

Some non-natives that have been used to simulate grass are Scleranthus uniflorus, Irish or scotch moss (Sagina subulata), or Carex berggrenii.

To answer your drainage question, yes you need to drill holes for drainage. Your plants will grow much better with adequate soil drainage. For some tips on planting a miniature garden visit The Mini Garden Guru's website. And if you are going to use any mosses, take a look at George Schenk's book on moss gardening.

 

From the Image Gallery


Poverty rush
Juncus tenuis

Cherokee sedge
Carex cherokeensis

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

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

Alternative for sedges for turf-like lawn in shade
October 25, 2013 - When it comes to a turf-like lawn in shade, is it pretty much sedges or nothing among native options? By the way, I write from up north here in Iowa. Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Shade grasses for central Texas
November 16, 2014 - We are new to the area and bought a home this summer that has lots of shade in the very small backyard. The problem is that there was new sod laid in the backyard which now is 50% dead. We do not kno...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for landscaping backyard in Central Texas
January 02, 2008 - We are starting from scratch in our backyard (approx. 200'x60')in Central Texas (Cedar Park). The yard faces West. What do you recommend for plants, trees, shrubs and grass that are native and will ...
view the full question and answer

Can Gulf Muhly grow in California from Walnut Creek CA
February 10, 2014 - I live in Walnut Creek, California, and recently learned about Muhlenbergia capillaris. It's a beautiful grass. Would this native do well here?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center