En EspaŅol

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
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

Monday - September 30, 2013

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources, Meadow Gardens, Planting, Seeds and Seeding, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Grasses for a prairie in southeast Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

We have a small place (about 100 acres) in Colorado County, Texas, on the Colorado River north of the town of Weimar. We are gradually clearing (bulldozing) the woods of cedars. One particular spot is fairly steep, 4-5 acres. We need to plant, sow grass seeds. What would you recommend? It is now fairly exposed to the sun, the soil seems ok, is irregular in type, somewhat loamy (though I am no expert). I notice the highway department seems to use some kind of mat that must be embedded with seeds. I mention that only because it seems such material might help to prevent erosion while the plants begin to take root. We are trying to be as environmentally correct as possible, within financial limits. We have no irrigation system, just mother nature. Any thoughts? Thank you very much.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants has answered a number of questions similar to yours from various parts of Texas.  I have excerpted one of these that is appropriate for your needs.

First, there are several prairie restoration organizations with a wealth of information to help you in your very worthwhile project.  You might start by looking at the information from the Native Prairies Association of Texas.  In particular, see Planting a Tallgrass Prairie: What to Plant.

Here are some of the grasses that would be appropriate for your area.  Schizachyrium scoparium (Little bluestem), Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass), Andropogon gerardii (Big bluestem), Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass) and Andropogon glomeratus (Bushy bluestem)

Native American Seed in Junction TX has a Prairie Starter Mix with most of the grasses named above as well as a few more.  But for your area I recommend a mix of grasses and wildflowers such as Native American Seed's Coastal Prairie Mix.  If you prefer to assemble  your own mix, most of the seeds are available as individual species at Native American Seed or probably at some of your local plant nurseries.

It is important to prepare the ground to remove the most noxious weeds and make certain that your seeds contact mineral soil, as described in some of the above-referenced instructions.  If erosion seems likely, you might consider laying down either straw- or wood fiber mats, available at Native American Seeds, after sowing the seeds.

You might also find several of our "How to Articles" useful, especially Recreating a Prairie.  You might also like to visit Clymer's Meadow Preserve, the largest tract of tallgrass prairie in Texas located in Hunt County.

There is more information about prairie restoration at Prairie Parcel Restoration from Teacher Research Associates (TRAC) Program at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia Illinois and at Prairie Restoration from Prairie Plains Resource Institute in Nebraska.


 

From the Image Gallery


Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Indiangrass
Sorghastrum nutans

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Bushy bluestem
Andropogon glomeratus

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Ornamental grasses under desert willows from Dallas, TX
September 06, 2013 - I am planning on planting 3 desert willows in full sun, below the power lines at the back of my back yard in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas. I would like to plant some ornamental grasses in the be...
view the full question and answer

Properties of Nolina species
November 16, 2010 - I bought two plants that were labeled "Nolina" but one has round leaves and the other has flat leaves with serrations. Are they two different species? Also, can they be divided or is there only on...
view the full question and answer

Burning back Gulf Muhly instead of trimming from San Antonio
December 19, 2011 - A few years ago I noticed that the Center burned back its Gulf Muhly rather than cutting it back. Did that study result in any conclusions or recommendations?
view the full question and answer

Plants for a slope in WV
June 01, 2011 - I live in the northern panhandle of WV. We have a hill side in front of our home and are getting too old to cut it. What would be the best ground cover for it. We want something that looks good and wi...
view the full question and answer

Planting creeping phlox for a groundcover
June 13, 2014 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Southwestern PA (zip code 15065). I have a small slope on my property that is hard for me to mow. I would like to cover it with creeping phlox, which I saw on t...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center