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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 is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - August 21, 2014

From: Rimouski, QC
Region: Select Region
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native Grasses for Quebec
Answered by: Anne Van Nest


I saw an article in the Martha Stewart magazine on native grasses. I live in Canada in Rimouski, in the province of Quebec. I am wondering if native grasses would grow here in the region? Our hardiness zone is 3a. Thanks for looking into it and giving me some information on which plant would be good for us. There are strong winds and a cold winter here too.


It is great that Martha Stewart encourages the use of native grasses. Unfortunately Mr. Smarty Plants has been out in the garden so much lately that he doesn’t have a recent copy of her magazine handy to see which native grass plants Martha might have recommended. So, Mr. Smarty Plants suggests a look online at the Gardens North catalog ( Gardens North are based in Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia (previously they were in the Ottawa Valley).  They have several native grasses (and grass-like plants) that are hardy to zone 3 and native to Quebec, such as Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), Deschampsia cespitosa (tufted hairgrass), Festuca brachyphylla (alpine fescue), Festuca saximontana (Rocky mountain fescue), Patis racemosa (black-seeded rice grass), Panicum virgatum (switch grass), Schizachyrium scoparium (little blue stem), Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass), Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie drop seed).

Another place to go to find a list of native grasses is our Native Plant Database.  Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: QC, Habit – Grass, Duration – Perennial. There is an overwhelming number of native grassess (and grass-like plants) beyond what has been linked above to investigate. Good luck investigating grasses for your garden.


From the Image Gallery

Big bluestem
Andropogon gerardii

Tufted hairgrass
Deschampsia cespitosa

Panicum virgatum

Little bluestem
Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Prairie dropseed
Sporobolus heterolepis

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