Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Sunday - June 21, 2009

From: Covington, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses for wildlife in Katrina recovery area of Louisiana
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in La in an area decimated by Katrina and want to establish 11 acres of wildlife friendly native short grasses. It is partly designated wetlands because it floods, but also has long periods without much water, and of course, there are not many trees yet. What are the best selections? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants commends you on your project!  You can actually search for these yourself by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH on our Native Plant Database by selecting Louisiana from the Select State or Province and 'Grass/Grass-like' from Habit (general appearance) and 'Wet - soil is saturated with water' from Soil moisture.  This will give you more than 40 choices.  it is possible that for some of your area you can use grasses that live in moist soil.  If you add that choice to your search, you will get more than 70 choices.  Of course, not all of those are going to be short grasses or necessarily wildlife friendly, so I'm going to recommend several that I think should do well for you. I'm going to include some tall bunchgrasses for you to consider as well because of their attractiveness and suitability for wildlife.

SHORTER GRASSES AND GRASS-LIKE PLANTS

Andropogon glomeratus (bushy bluestem) is a very attractive grass in all seasons that does well in wet areas and is larval host for several butterflies.

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama) provides food for birds and butterflies.  It would do well out of the flooded areas in moist soils.

Carex stipata (owlfruit sedge) grows well in wet soils in the sun and is an important food for the swamp sparrow.

Carex texensis (Texas sedge) grows to less than 1 foot tall in sun and part shade in moist areas.

Carex vulpinoidea (fox sedge) grows in wet or moist soil in the sun and attracts birds.

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats) is an attractive grass that is larval host to several butterflies and its seeds are used by birds and other wildlife.  It does best in part shade or shade.

Eleocharis montevidensis (sand spikerush) grows well in low wet areas in full sun and is food for waterfowl and shorebirds.

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass) grows in moist soils in full sun to less than 2 feet and provides nesting cover for birds.

Poa arachnifera (Texas bluegrass) grows to less than 2 feet in moist soils in sun or part shade.  Seeds provide food for birds and small mammals.  Also, it attracts butterflies.

TALLER GRASSES

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) can withstand periodic flooding as well as drought conditions.  It provides food and shelter for more than 20 bird species and is a larval host to several butterflies and moths.

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) grows in moist soils in the sun and part shade and is larval host and nectar source for several butterflies.

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass) is an attractive tall grass with seeds that provide food for small mammals and birds and also attracts butterflies.

Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) can grow in moist or wet brackish to very salty soils but is not drought tolerant.  Its seeds are eaten by a variety of birds.

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass) has attractive flower heads and its seeds are eaten by deer and birds.

You also might find some or all of the articles under "Large Scale Wildflower Planting" in our How-to Articles useful to your project.


Andropogon glomeratus

Bouteloua curtipendula

Carex stipata

Carex texensis

Carex vulpinoidea

Chasmanthium latifolium

Eleocharis montevidensis

Eragrostis spectabilis

Poa arachnifera

Andropogon gerardii

Panicum virgatum

Sorghastrum nutans

Spartina alterniflora

Tripsacum dactyloides

 

 


 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native turf grass for Denison TX
January 27, 2014 - I have researched many grasses for sandy soil in Denison,Tx that are easy mantainance. Habiturf has been recommended but is mostly Buffalo grass and is not recommended for sandy soil. What other opt...
view the full question and answer

Controlling erosion with grasses in Dallas, TX
October 19, 2013 - After consulting with several geological engineers and the city of Dallas engineers - we know that our severe erosion problem can only be fixed by building a 35' foot high gabion wall about 150' in ...
view the full question and answer

Hillside Erosion in Pace FL
July 17, 2015 - I have a hillside that slopes down about 10 feet to a spring fed pond. The pond drains into Escambia Bay. We have 2 dams with culverts to control the flow of water. Last year during a torrential ra...
view the full question and answer

Chigger Control in Habiturf from Plano, TX
April 08, 2015 - We converted our back yard in Plano, Texas to Habiturf last spring/summer and have a nice lawn; however, for the first time since we have lived in this house for 32 years, the lawn was full of chigger...
view the full question and answer

Planting Muhlenbergia rigens in Austin
August 16, 2010 - I have a question about when I can plant Deer Muhly (AKA Muhlenbergia Rigens). It's pretty hot now, but I would like to know how much it needs to cool down before I can plant these grasses?
view the full question and answer

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