Buchloe dactyloides

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: buffalo grass 
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.25 to 0.75 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Green
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Intolerant of shade. Tolerates heat, drought and a wide range of soils. Adapts to alkaline soils. Avoid frequent watering. Plants are intolerant of lots of moisture, and generally do not perform well in areas with high rainfall. When grown as a turfgrass for lawns, mowing is infrequently required. When needed, mow to a height of 2-3” tall. Also may be naturalized without mowing as a 4-6” tall grass. Plant seed in April-June. May also be established by sod or plugs.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Buchloe dactyloides, known as buffalo grass, is a dioecious, drought-tolerant, heat-resistant, fine-textured, warm season perennial grass that is native primarily to the Great Plains within the area from Minnesota to Montana south to Louisiana and Arizona. It is one of the dominant grasses of the shortgrass prairie. It is commonly called buffalo grass because it was at one time regularly grazed by herds of buffalo (American bison) that once populated the Great Plains. It typically grows 4-8” tall with gray-green curly leaves. It spreads by stolons. Somewhat inconspicuous green flowers bloom in summer (June -August), with male flowers appearing in comb-like spikes on slender stems rising above the leaves and with female flowers appearing in bur-like clusters on short stems hidden by the leaves. Buffalo grass is considered to be an excellent native forage grass. With the addition of new cultivars, buffalo grass is now becoming more popular as a low-maintenance turfgrass for lawns, parks, golf courses, roadsides and commercial areas. In optimum growing conditions, it can form a low maintenance turf which survives hot and humid summers with minimal water and fertilizer. The main disadvantages of buffalo grass as a lawn turfgrass are (1) foliage turns straw-colored from mid-fall to mid-spring when grass is dormant, (2) invasive habit which may result in stoloniferous spread into adjacent plantings, and (3) intolerance of heavy foot traffic.

Specific epithet means resembling fingers.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Chinch bug can be troublesome. Brown patch, summer patch and leaf spot may occur. Stolons may spread into adjacent areas.

Garden Uses

Low-maintenance turfgrass for lawns, parks, golf courses, commercial areas and roadsides. Effective on dry sunny slopes where it can also provide some erosion control.