Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides) is a Midwest native often requested by customers due to its increasing popularity as a lawn replacement.
Extremely drought tolerant, it can suffer with too much moisture. In an average year, most of Pennsylvania has historically received too much rain for this plant, but with our rain coming in big bursts with drier spells in between, this plant will find a niche. It will do well on a well-drained, sunny site and can be especially useful on a slope to help with erosion. It does best in clay loam and tolerates both clay and alkaline soils. The tight mat of low growing grass will go dormant (straw-colored) during extreme drought and in winter.
It requires full sun and its thin, curly gray-green blades reach 4”-6”in height. It can be mowed mid-season to a height of 2’-3”, and spreads by above-ground runners.
At one time, Buffalo Grass was regularly grazed by herds of buffalo (American bison) in the Great Plains. Although one can picture the weight of herds of buffalo on the prairie, it is reported to be intolerant to heavy foot traffic and is best used where there is only light traffic.
There are both male and female plants but there is no need to worry about which one(s) you have, but this explains the different flower structures – male flowers are comb-like and female flowers are bur-like.
It will not turn green until the soil has been warm for approximately 2 weeks—sometime around mid-May. Mix the plants with Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Gama) which usually greens up about 2 weeks earlier, if this is of concern.
Our plants are mature plants in quart pots and should be planted between 8 and 18 inches apart. Water well when planting and during prolonged dry spells.