Chapter 3. Common Native Grasses of the Northern Midwest

3.3 Blue grama

Blue grama
Blue grama in flower.

Bouteloua gracilis

Warm season; Perennial

Characteristics: 8–24”; irregular; flowers green to yellow; foliage gray-green; self-seeder

Growing Conditions: average to dry soils; drought tolerant: full sun; hardy zones 3–8

Blue grama has interesting that have been described as looking like tiny combs, eyebrows, or grasshoppers. Blue grama can handle hot and dry sites. It can be used for low maintenance or alternative lawns. Infrequent mowing, monthly or as little as twice a year, can maintain grasses, but broadleaf weed control may be necessary until grasses are established.

‘Blond Ambition’: are yellow-green and are borne on stems 3’, taller than blue grama plants from the Midwest. Selection is from New Mexico and may have limited hardiness in colder , can easily be grown as an annual.

Species that feed on blue grama according to the literature are Oslar’s roadside skipper (Amblyscirtes oslari), Simius skipper (Notamblyscirtes simius), Mead’s wood nymph (Cercyonis meadii), Blake’s tiger moth (Grammia blakei), Assiniboia skipper (Hesperia assiniboia), Common branded skipper (Hesperia comma), Leonard’s skipper (Hesperia leonardus), Ottoe skipper (Hesperia ottoe), Pahaska skipper (Hesperia pahaska), Uncas skipper (Hesperia uncas), Ridings’ satry (Neominois ridingsii), Garita skipperling (Oarisma garita), and Rhesus skipper (Polites rhesus).

The nativar ‘Blonde Ambition’, in a boulevard planting. Blue grama does well in droughty conditions so is a good choice for boulevard plantings.
The nativar ‘Blonde Ambition’, in a boulevard planting. Blue grama does well in droughty conditions so is a good choice for boulevard plantings.

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Gardening with Native Grasses in Cold Climates by Diane M. Narem and Mary Hockenberry Meyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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