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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.

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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.

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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!

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Tuesday - October 15, 2013

From: Carson City, NV
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Groundcovers, Shade Tolerant, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Habiturf lawn in Carson City, NV
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I planted habiturf just south of Reno NV May 5. First two months no or little germination because nite temps too cold. Now doing ok except battling purslane and redstem filaree.. SO, I notice bare/sparse coverage in shady areas.. can you suggest something compatible to put there (once established it won't get watered a lot..)

ANSWER:

We were excited to receive this question because Habiturf was originated in Central Texas by the Ecosystem Design Group at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, also the home of Mr. Smarty Plants. The indication that you are growing it is exciting because we think that may be as far west as Habiturf has extended.

We wonder what kind of advanced preparation you did for planning this lawn, and want to refer you to our complete preparation, planting and care guide, if you have not already seen it. Follow this link to our article on Habiturf - Species Mix for North, West and Central Texas. Then, you would probably be interested on our article Native Lawns. This includes some pictures and some research information comparing Habiturf with other, non-native, lawns.

Now, to your specific question: you will note in the articles above this line: "These grasses have almost identically shaped leaves and color and produce a great-looking, even-textured, dense lawn that does well in full sun but also tolerates 50 percent shade." The word "tolerates" means it is happier with 6 hours or more of sun a day, but can survive with less. Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer  that deals with lawns or groundcovers in an arid situation. This was all in Travis County, TX where the Wildflower Center is located, but we feel it makes some points that would also apply to your situation.

We will go to our Native Plant Database, scroll down that page to the Combination Search, and then on the selection bar on the right-hand side of that page, choose Nevada for the state. Ordinarily, we would choose a Habit, such as "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant) or "grass or grasslike, but in this case we are just going to let our website hunt around for anything low enough and tolerant of shade to suit your purpose. So, we will select "dry" for Soil Moisture and "part shade" (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) as well as shade (less than 2 hours of sun a day) for Light Requirements. Last of all, we will select 0 to 1 ft. for Height. We will give you a list of plants we think appropriate that fit those criteria; your job will be to follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant, read the growing conditions, etc., compare them with your space and select some that would suit your purpose. If you (or we) don't find anything satisfactory, we suggest you consider some of the alternatives suggested in the previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer we referred you to above.

Low-Growing Shade Plants for the Vicinity of Reno, Nevada:

Antennaria parvifolia (Small-leaf pussytoes)

Baileya multiradiata (Desert marigold)

Chloris virgata (Feather fingergrass)

Corydalis curvisiliqua (Curvepod)

Eriogonum douglasii (Douglas' buckwheat)

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

Hedeoma drummondii (Drummond's false pennyroyal)

Phyla nodiflora (Texas frogfruit)

Solidago multiradiata (Rocky mountain goldenrod)

If you have difficulty locating these plants native to your area, go to our National Suppliers Directory, put your town and state or just your zipcode in the Enter Search Location box, press GO and you will get a list of native plant suppliers, seed companies and consultants in your general area. All have contact information so you can find out before you go if they have what you are looking for.

 

From the Image Gallery


Small-leaf pussytoes
Antennaria parvifolia

Desert marigold
Baileya multiradiata

Feather fingergrass
Chloris virgata

Curvepod
Corydalis curvisiliqua

Douglas' buckwheat
Eriogonum douglasii

Virginia strawberry
Fragaria virginiana

Drummond's false pennyroyal
Hedeoma drummondii

Texas frogfruit
Phyla nodiflora

Rocky mountain goldenrod
Solidago multiradiata

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