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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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Friday - May 29, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Meadow Gardens, Seeds and Seeding, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: When to harvest native grass seeds?
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

We are trying to restore native grasses to a small pasture between Oak Hill and Dripping Springs. Last spring (2014), we seeded a mix of sideoats grama, little bluestem, dahl bluestem, and sprangletop. All came up nicely and currently have seeds on the stems. WHEN WILL THE SEEDS FALL? We want to graze our mini donkeys in the pasture but want the grasses to successfully reseed. We mowed once, early in the spring, before the grasses put on seed to help control weeds. Thank you!

ANSWER:

Grass seed ripening is quite dependent on weather conditions.  In a rainy year such as we are having there might be a significant delay.  It is recommended to wait until the seeds feel firm or hard before mowing.  To be on the safe side you might wait until the seed come off fairly easily in your hand when you draw the seed head through your fingers.  This may be as late as mid-summer. Most mature grass seeds are held on the plant for 10-15 days.  Bluestem grass seeds mature later than most other species, ripening in late summer.

Your grass species are all perennial, so they will regrow next year without the addition of fresh seed.  However, the addition of new seed will give a denser sward. So ask your donkeys to be patient this year.

 

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