Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Monday - October 05, 2015

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Groundcovers, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Does Calyptocarpus vialis (Horseherb) compete with turf grasses
Answered by: Nan Hampton


For my yard in central Austin Does horse herb, Calyptocarpus vialis help or damage the growth of native short grasses? The grasses include Curly Mesquite and Blue Gamma planted early in the spring or in the fall. The grass plants are scattered and have not made a turf.


A blogger in Central Texas at Where Plants Rule says that  Calyptocarpus vialis (Straggler daisy) out-competes grasses in times of drought.  She also points out that straggler daisy (horseherb) predominates in the shade whereas most grasses do best in the sun, e.g., Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama) and Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass).  Another blogger from Austin TX at Great Stems: Garden Adventures, Wildlife Welcome, admits that it can compete with grass but loves it anyway.  Here is one more blog, Papershell: Gardening et cetera, that doesn't have quite as positive opinion about it.

You might consider leaving the horseherb to form a groundcover in shadier areas and try removing it from the sunnier areas.  One sure method for removing the horseherb is to pull it up by hand.  If you do this, you should realize that the stems break easily leaving the roots intact in the ground to produce more horseherb.  Wetting the ground makes it easier to remove the roots along with the plants.  With the fall rains that are hopefully coming, the blue grama and curly mesquite may begin to fill in the sunnier areas.  You might consider reseeding your lawn with blue grama and curly mesquite early next spring.  Native American Seed has a good article, Planting Tips for Native Grasses, that you might like to read. 


More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native, low maintenance lawn for Rowley MA
September 11, 2013 - I am in Northeastern (coastal) Massachusetts and I am looking to replace my (currently high maintenance, water intensive, invasive species) lawn with a native, low maintenance species (or mix). Many o...
view the full question and answer

Speed of bluestem grass spreading in Georgia red clay from Dallas GA
May 13, 2012 - How fast does bluestem spread in Georgia red clay?
view the full question and answer

Is sulfurous well water affecting leaves on trees in Belton TX
November 07, 2011 - We installed an irrigation system for our buffalo grass lawn last spring. The grass is fine but the leaves on the trees are burned where the water hits them. I suspect that the well we are using fo...
view the full question and answer

Erosion prevention on shady Pennsylvania stream
July 28, 2011 - I'm looking for a few species to plant along a stream channel to help reduce erosion during heavy rains. The soil is moist and in full shade. Ferns and thorny bushes are the only current vegetation...
view the full question and answer

Shady Container Plant for Austin
August 20, 2014 - I am looking for a tall plant/small shrub/ornamental grass for a very large pot that is placed against the north wall of our Austin home. That spot gets some morning sun in the summer, but virtually ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.