Native Grasses from South Texas This page contains an index of the common names of grasses from South Texas and the Texas Hill country.
Texas Native Grass FAQ
Unless otherwise noted, all grasses grow in the warm season and
are dormant in the winter, often with showy seed heads holding well
into winter, adding good movement and color at this season.
Grasses grow in two ways:
* 1. They grow as a bunch grass, not spreading underground.
* 2. They spread by underground rhizomes.
Some grass seeds sprout very readily, so you may get "babies" appearing wherever wind or animal has dropped seed. Plants which seed prolifically will be noted in the plant description. Most grasses prefer a location in full sun. Special notation will be given to those that can tolerate shady areas.
Andropogon gerardii BIG BLUESTEM
3-6 ft. Blue to gray color; reddish in fall. Blooms August-November with "turkey-foot" shaped spikes. All well drained soils. This tall prairie bunch grass provides a wonderful vertical accent to a garden or meadow. It needs moisture and grows best in the eastern half of Texas where there is more rainfall. Big bluestem can tolerate part shade. Our variety has blue summer foliage.
Andropogon glomeratus BUSHY BLUESTEM
3-5 ft. Bushy plumes September-November; good coppery fall color. All soils; tolerates wet conditions. This non-invasive bunch grass sends up showy, fat plumes in the fall. Both plumes and leaves turn a coppery-red in autumn, adding color interest to the fall and winter garden or meadow.
Aristida purpurea PURPLE THREEAWN
2-3 ft. Lacy purple flowers in spring and fall. Most well drained soils; drought tolerant. The delicate purple flower plumes on this small bunch grass show up best when plants are grouped together in a mass. This is a good grass for a dry area. It is unique in that it send up flower plumes twice a season. Cut it back to encourage full second bloom.
Buchloe dactyloides BUFFALO GRASS
This native turfgrass is the perfect selection for those who don't like to water, fertilize, or mow. It spreads by above-ground runners, has a thin leaf blade, and grows to 6", sending up a thin, male flower about 2 inches above the leaves. We are offering seed of the native (as opposed to the forage varieties such as Texoka and Comanche) grass. Our native grass grows lower and thicker than the forage varieties. The seeds are very large; you will need approximately 5 lbs. of seed/1000 sq. ft.
Bouteloua curtipendula SIDEOATS GRAMA
2-3 ft. Flower stalk in late summer with small, oat-like seed heads hanging uniformly on one side. Most well drained soils. This is the Texas State Grass, and is one of the easiest native bunch grasses to germinate and produce a stand the first year. It seeds prolifically. It is not choosy about soils and is a very good companion for wildflowers in the meadow. Do not mow it more than twice a year, or you'll risk killing it.
Chasmanthium latifolium INLAND SEA OATS
2-3 ft. Blooms June-October with open, drooping one-sided panicle of seeds up to 8" long. Deep, moist soils; tolerates wet conditions. Shade. This is a beautiful grass for any dried arrangement. It spreads by rhizomes and can be invasive in a flower bed--it can quickly cover a large area. It is good in a moist, woodland area. It can tolerate some sun, but grows best in a shady spot. It is less aggressive in dry areas, but will need shade.
Elymus canadensis var. canadensis CANADA WILD
3-5 ft. Wheat-like seed heads in summer. Most soils. Grows in sun or shade. The wheat-shaped flowers on this native bunch grass are a good addition to dried arrangements. This is a cool-season grass and flowers appear and ripen in late spring.
Eragrostis trichodes SAND LOVE GRASS
4 ft. Delicate, lacy plumes in late spring and fall. Most well drained soils. Can tolerate some shade. The lovely flowers on this bunch grass resemble Baby's Breath in their delicacy. It seeds readily. Two leaf forms are available: an upright form and a weeping form. Both produce the same feathery plumes. Specify weeping or upright when ordering.
Koeleria glauca BLUE HAIR GRASS
8-12" Blue-gray foliage; no flowers. Evergreen. Most soils. The delicate blue foliage on this native bunch grass look best when plants are massed in the garden. Because it is evergreen, it adds color interest in winter, as well as summer. It is very drought tolerant.
Muhlenbergia capillaris GULF MUHLY
13-24" Lacy pink bloom mid-October. Well drained soils. The delicate shape and color of the fall bloom on this bunch grass show up best when massed in the garden or meadow. The pink color shows up beautifully when backlit against the morning or evening sun. Mow it in February to get rid of old stalks before the spring growth.
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri LINDHEIMER'S MUHLY
2-4' Silver plumes in fall; good winter color. Most well drained soil. This wonderful bunch grass is one of our State's prime ornamental grasses. The plumes resemble a small pampas grass, but this plant is more winter-hardy and the leaf edges do not cut. The leaves turn a lovely buff in late fall and winter, making this plant a valued and graceful accent in a garden or meadow area.
Muhlenbergia reverchonii SEEP MUHLY
1- 2 ft. Pink airy blooms in fall. Most well drained soils. Will grow in rock. This is similar to Gulf Muhly but is better adapted to limestone soils. The pink, frothy bloom is showy and airy and is womderful when back-lit.
Panicum virgatum SWITCHGRASS
3-8 ft. Tall, lacy plume; good fall color. Most soils; all varieties can tolerate wet conditions. This is an excellent plant to use as a screen, specimen, or backdrop. Our selection is a lovely blue during the growing season, turning orange in the fall. The flower plumes are lacy, sometimes with a hint of red. We also sell the UPLAND SWITCH GRASS, a more drought-tolerant variety and somewhat shorter than the regular variety.
Poa arachnifera TEXAS BLUE GRASS
2-3 ft. Fluffy silvery flowers in spring. Most well drained soils. Can tolerate some shade. This interesting bunch grass is green during the cool winter and spring months, flowers in the spring, and goes dormant in the heat of summer and early fall. The green of the foliage and the lovely silver plumes are a perfect screen for ripening bulb foliage.
Schizachyrium scoparium var. frequens LITTLE
2-3 ft. Blue-gray foliage; good fall and winter color. Most well drained soils. This important prairie bunch grass grows in a wide range of soils--wet, dry, rocky, deep. The lovely blue color of the summer foliage is a good accent in the garden or meadow. In the fall the leaves turn a wonderful coppery-red, which persists all winter. Our selection is one of the bluest we have seen.
Soprobolus airoides PRAIRIE DROPSEED
2 ft. Good yellow fall color. Most soils. This drought tolerant bunch grass makes a good specimen plant or ground cover. It seeds readily. The lovely yellow color in autumn adds to the cold season garden or meadow.
Sorghastrum nutans INDIANGRASS
2 ft. (plume up to 6 ft.) Bright gold flower plume in October. All well drained soils. Can tolerate some shade. This lovely prairie grass spreads aggressively from rhizomes, making this a good groundcover or erosion control plant. The small fall flowers are a brilliant yellow with a touch of red. It prefers deep, rich, moist soils; use it as a garden accent in drier areas of the state.
Trypsacum dactyloides EASTERN GAMAGRASS
2-3 ft., can reach 10 ft. Small yellow corn-like fruit April-November. Most moist soils; tolerates poor drainage. Can tolerate some shade. This bunch grass makes a good screen or specimen plant; clumps are very dense. It tolerates more shade than most prairie grasses and appreciates extra moisture. It is a lush, dark green, but leaf blades are sharp, so cut with care before spring. It does not like to be moved.