Plant of the Week
Here’s a good resolution: Plant plants that will survive. Drought has hit most of the United States in the past few years, and gardeners who struggled to keep their lawns green might be looking for alternatives to nonnative, high-maintenance turf grasses.
Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) could be the survivor they’re looking for. It’s a short native prairie grass that tolerates heat, humidity, and drought with very little water or fertilizer. It is a warm-season grass, which means it goes dormant (turns beige or straw-colored) during cold weather. Male and female plants have small light green to tan flowers. Typically buffalo grass will top out at 5 or 6 inches, so you could retire your lawn mower completely. Now how many resolutions have you made that will allow you to spend more time on the couch?
Common name: Buffalo grass
Botanical name: Buchloe dactyloides
Plant type: Grass
Zones: 3 to 11
Height: 4 to 6 inches
· Sun: Full sun
· Soil: Average, well-drained. Tolerates clay and alkaline soil.
· Moisture: Dry to medium
· Mulch: None needed.
· Pruning: None needed.
· Fertilizer: Can fertilize with nitrogen when planted.
· By seed or by division. Spreads by stolons.
Pests and diseases
· Few problems with pests or diseases.
· Like other turf grasses, buffalo grass will spread. Use edging to separate buffalo grass from vegetable and flower beds, or pull out errant stolons.
· Buffalo grass isn’t salt-tolerant. Don’t use it to border sidewalks and driveways where road salt gets dumped in the winter.
· Buffalo grass is usually dioecious, with male and female plants. The female plant bears small burs close to the base of the plant.
· ‘Cody’ is a dense, dark green grass that’s hardy in winter cold and summer heat.
· ‘Bowie’ has medium green color and fine leaf texture. It was bred for improved lateral growth, so it will spread more quickly than the species.
· ‘Legacy’ is one of several cultivars that were selected to contain only female plants. It’s not sold as seed, but only as sod or plugs.
All in the family
· Buchloe dactyloides is the only species in its genus. It’s found in the wild from Manitoba to Mexico and from Illinois to Nevada.
· Buffalo grass is one of two dominant grasses in the North American shortgrass prairie—the other is blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis).
· Buffalo grass is food for buffalo, deer, cattle, and several grasshopper species.
Where to buy
· Easyliving Wildflowers, Willow Springs, MO, 417-469-2611, www.easywildflowers.com
· High Country Gardens, Santa Fe, NM, 800-925-9387, www.highcountrygardens.com
· Prairie Moon Nursery, Winona, MN, 866-417-8156, www.prairiemoon.com
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of Buchloe dactyloides ‘Sharp’s Improved’ courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden’s Kemper Center for Home Gardening)
Sunday, January 01, 2012 6:22 PM
Love my buffalo grass, however, so do the local native cottontail rabbits. They keep it pruned down to a nub. I don't think your statement about buffalo grass being food for deer is correct. True the Wapiti (elk) do graze on it, but mule deer can't digest grass; they are browsers and eat shrubs and leafy plants. Mustangs and sheep, and of course the cottontails and jackrabbits, also like it though.
Monday, January 09, 2012 9:43 PM
I am interested in knowing more. I am in Fla. My yard has 90%
sand. It never used to be like this. Have cronic back pain. ( But I still
get out and tend to my small garden every day,Not alot of money.)
This sound's pretty good for My yard . Any advise will be great !!
( what is a " Stolon"?) Thank you for any help !
Monday, January 09, 2012 9:47 PM
I do not have an wild animal problem. However,I do have two laying Hen's . They have their own space to scratch.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 12:44 PM
I love the Buffalo grass that I planted in my tiny front yard. I bought mine from High Country Gardens. I have had it 4-5 years it spreads slowely. I love the fact that it does not need to be mowed except 2x a year. Since I live in zone 6 it does go brown in the winter. I don't mind that. The only problem I have is that it has weeds in it and one needs to be careful with the weed control products since there are not alot out there for buffalo grass. Pulling by hand pulls everything up so I need a better solution.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 7:57 PM
Reply to Frog: I like the info on this website: http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/turf/publications/buffalo.html The big mailorder seed houses sell buffalo grass too but I'm not sure if the price is competative. A 'stolon' is like a runner that goes across the surface of the ground with a new plant every inch or so.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012 9:18 PM
Hello, Frog here. I can not seem to respond to ruby2sday's
message . A "Stolon" seem's like the perfect thing for my Dry yard.
Buffalo just might do the thing to get my yard back. Not many weed's to pull due to what is called " Sugar Sand". I want to Thank You for your help!! Have A Great Day !!!
( a.k.a. Linda)
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 12:52 PM
Ruby - they didn't say elk or mule deer. They are referring to the common white tail deer.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 12:55 PM
A Stolon is a little nubby branch that is growing either on or just under ground. These send up sprouts and down roots and result in a spread of the main plant. You see Similar to this in crab grass and strawberry.
By Extra Dirt Newsletter
Monday, January 23, 2012 8:58 AM
Tuesday, April 10, 2012 1:50 PM
I too live in Florida, zone 11 but only spend the winters here. Wouldn't want to have dormant grass the whole time we are here. Would this grass go dormant here too? It never gets below freezing. This would be ideal grass for me. I have a family of Burrowing Owls on my front lawn and they love prairie like habitat. Sounds like the kind of grass they would like. No pesticides for me!
Friday, August 17, 2012 2:32 AM
This sounds like a good grass for us, but we have corgis and I'm not sure about "burrs" being in the grass. That may be a problem I'd rather not fool with. We live in S. Central CA. Does anyone know if these "burrs" would cause dogs a problem?
Sunday, August 19, 2012 8:24 PM
In response to " have Corgis " . Yes the burr's can get stuck in their pad's and coat. When the pet tries to chew them off they can get stuck in between the lip's and gum's.
Even ( once in awhile under the tounge ) be careful when
they go out to play or whatever. As far as I know, No mediclal problem's have been mentioned. Happy gardening !!
Monday, August 20, 2012 5:51 PM
Thanks, Frog! I guess this won't work for us. I really appreciate the quick answer, though!
Monday, August 20, 2012 9:05 PM
I'm happy to help ! Good luck ! ( hi, puppy's !)