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
2 ratings

Monday - March 21, 2011

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Setaria scheelei grass for San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

It seems that ornamental grasses for dry shady places are few and far between. Southwestern Bristlegrass (Setaria scheelei) is exactly what I'm looking for and would solve all my problems! Only I can't figure out how to acquire this lovely plant. Native seed suppliers don't seem to carry it and I don't see it on your Spring Plant Sale list. Might it be available at the Fall Sale? How else might I go about solving this little dilemma?

ANSWER:

Okay, we see what you're saying. Even the list of 652 plants that grow on the grounds of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does not include Setaria scheelei (Southwestern bristlegrass). We went to our usual first resort for grass seeds, Native American Seeds, Grasses, and they don't list it, either. Native American Seed always has a tent where they sell seeds at our Plant Sales, but if it's not in their catalog, it seems unlikely that they will have it with them at the Spring or the Fall Sale.

So, we dug a little further. Under Native Mixes,  NAS has a Shade-Friendly Mix of grasses, including Setaria macrostachya, Plains Bristlegrass, which we do not have in our Native Plant Database. Here is some more information on Plains Bristlegrass.

We don't want to throw cold water on your project, but we don't think you should expect any plant to solve all your problems, garden or otherwise. A grass mix designed for dry shady places would be far more predictable and reliable than putting all your eggs in one grass. We recommend you at least consider the shade mix from NAS. It includes the following grasses. Those that are in our database are links to the pages on those plants, so you can study their growing conditions and requirements as apply to your own situation,

Tridens flavus (Purpletop tridens)

Chasmanthium latifolium (Inland sea oats)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye or canada wild rye)

Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)

Elymus virginicus (Virginia wildrye)

Setaria macrostachya

Nassella leucotricha (Texas wintergrass)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Tridens flavus


Chasmanthium latifolium


Elymus canadensis


Bouteloua curtipendula


Elymus virginicus


Nassella leucotricha

 

 

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

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

Erosion tolerant plants for shade from Kerrville TX
August 06, 2013 - We have just cleared a lot of cedar out of a small draw and would like to know the best groundcovers, shrubs, etc. to plant to hold the soil. Deep shade most of the day.
view the full question and answer

Can two species of Muhlenbergia be cross-pollinated from Portal AZ
July 17, 2012 - Will Muhlenbergia lindheimeri (Big Muhly) cross-pollinate with Muhlenbergia porteri (Bush Muhly)? I am attempting to restore the grasslands on my private property to a pre-1900 state. Bush Muhly was a...
view the full question and answer

Poolside plants for East Texas
June 18, 2015 - What are the best plants, shrubs, ornamental trees, etc. for poolside planting in East Texas?
view the full question and answer

Planting of Habiturf from Smithville TX
March 25, 2012 - Are Habiturf and Thunderturf the same? and, how late in the year can I plant Habiturf?
view the full question and answer

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