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Nov 8, 2020
Gardening information sheet for Blue grama - native water-wise grass
Blue Grama – Bouteloua gracilis (boo-te-LOO-uh GRASS-il-is)
Family: Poaceae (Grass Family)
Native to: Much of Western Northern America from Alberta, Canada as far south as Mexico, and most CO counties. Grows
on rocky slopes, flats, drainages, usually in scrublands, woodlands, pine forests. Wide range of plant communities
Growth characteristics: perennial grass mature height: 12-15 in mature width: 1-2 ft. Warm-season
perennial grass with characteristics of both bunchgrasses and sod-forming grasses (individual plants have bunchgrass shape;
closely planted form a turf-like sod). Radial growth is slow (2 in. per year). Leaves are fine-textured, green fading to tan with
summer drought. Greens up again with rains – or regularly water most of summer, tapering off in fall.
Blooms/fruits: Blooms May to Aug. Flowers red-purple fading to tan. Seed-heads suspended horizontally like tiny
brushes (or eyebrows) from the top of each flowering stem. Unique & showy.
Uses in the garden: Used as either an ornamental grass or mowed/clipped occasionally for a native turf lawn. Great
also for planting in a wildflower meadow and grows easily from seed. Small size makes it an excellent selection for rock
gardens or containers. Does well between trees, on medians & parking strips. Seeds eaten and stems used to make brushes
by native peoples where ever this grass grows. Cultivars: ‘Alma’, ‘Hachita’ & ‘Lovington’ are all from New Mexico. ‘Blond
Ambition’ makes a showy accent plant or prairie accent and is increasingly available.
Sensible substitute for: Non-native ornamental and turf grasses.
Attracts: Excellent bird habitat: provides seeds for songbirds, others. Larval food source for skipper butterflies. In the
wild this is an excellent range grass for deer, elk, etc.
Sun Full sun to dappled sun
Soil Best in well-drained soils, but ok also in finer textured clays. Any local pH.
Water Zone 2 to 3; can survive on very occasional summer water, but looks better with more regular water
(every 1-2 weeks); does not tolerate flooding.
Fertilizer Once a year; 1/3 -1/4 strength
Management: Clip individual clumps to 2-3 inches in early spring before growth begins. If using as a lawn, mow or clip
to 2-4 inches as needed (usually 2-3 times during the growing season).
Propagation: from seed: small seeds. Surface sow (1/2-2 lbs. seed per 1000 sq. ft.) in late fall/winter and very gently
rake in. Keep soil moist (not flooded) for first 10 weeks, until root systems are established by divisions: easy
Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 1, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 21-23 11/7/2020
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