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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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Thursday - July 27, 2006

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Control of grasses in wildflower gardening
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

We have been trying to manage and grow a plot of wildflowers in Madisonville, Texas just east of Bryan / College Station on a charity organizations site for 3 years with some success. The grasses have been difficult to control and we are embarking on a spraying campaign this season. What is the best times of year to do this for best control of the various strains of grasses?

ANSWER:

You don't say whether the grasses are native or non-native. We recommend you read the article, "Wildflower Meadow Gardening", in our Native Plant Library. This article recommends that a wildflower meadow have from 50 to 80% native grasses. The grasses provide support and protection for the wildflowers, prevent soil erosion, and occupy spaces that would otherwise be filled by weeds. If your meadow is full of bermuda, St. Augustine, annual rye, or other non-native species, you do need to try to get rid of those. If you have native grasses such as Bluestems (Andropogon spp.) or Gramas (Bouteloua spp.), you probably can control them by mowing. You can mow after the all annual and biennial wildflower species have flowered and set seed. This will insure that the seeds are sown for next spring's wildflower blooms.

With many different types of herbicide on the market, it is not possible to give you a blanket answer for when to use them. The answer really depends on the species of grass you want to control and the herbicide you intend to use. The labels of all herbicides give very specific instructions on timing and application of the chemical you intend to use. Finally, while the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center does not take a specific stand on the use of chemicals in the landscape other than to urge our patrons to carefully follow label directions if they choose to use them, we do not make recommendations for the use of specific chemicals, either.

 

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