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?

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
1 rating

Thursday - July 23, 2009

From: rockland, MA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Looking for a tall ornamental grass native to Massachusetts.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I am looking for a tall (4-8 ft) ornamental grass, native to Massachusetts/ New England. It needs to be tolerant of moist to wet soil, and preferably colorful. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

We applaud your preference for native plants. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown.

The use ornamental grasses in landscapes is gaining in popularity, and this site from the University of Illinois Extension has a lot of information about their selection and use. However, be aware that several of the genera that they mention are non natives (Pennisetum, Miscanthus, Molina, Lagurus and, Briza).

To find some possibilities for you, lets go to our Native Plant Database and scroll down to the Combination Search box and make these selections; select Massachusetts under State, Grass/grass-like under Habit, Perennial under Duration, Sun under Light requirement, and Moist under Soil Moisture. Click the "submit combination search" button and you will get a list of 56 native plants in Massachusetts that match these characteristics. Clicking on the name of each plant will bring up its NPIN page that contains a description of the plant, its habitat and growing conditions, along with images. 

Here are a few to consider:

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem) 

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

Calamagrostis canadensis (bluejoint)

You can make your own selections and adjust the list by altering the choices.

You might contact the Massachusetts Horticulture Society for further assistance.


Andropogon gerardii

Schizachyrium scoparium

Sorghastrum nutans

Panicum virgatum

 

 


Calamagrostis canadensis

 


 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

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

Recommendations for plants under sugar maple (Acer saccharum) tree
March 12, 2011 - We have an area under sugar maple trees and near white pines. We cannot get any grass to grow. There is little moisture and no sun in the summer. We live 25 miles north of Nashville, TN. Can you r...
view the full question and answer

Erosion controlling Groundcover for Phenix AL
March 30, 2014 - Hi I am trying to find a grass or ground cover to control erosion on firing range berms which are 1:1 grade on a firing range outside of Phenix City AL. Sandy clay soil, direct sunlight almost all day...
view the full question and answer

Need help with lawn that was sodded with Buffalo Grass in Dallas, TX.
March 20, 2012 - I had buffalo sod put down last March. It greened up beautifully until weeds just about covered it up. I tried hand pulling. My landscaper showed up with something that appeared to damage the buffa...
view the full question and answer

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

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