Blue Grama Grass: Drought-Tolerant Native Turf

In case you’re searching for a garden different that helps wildlife, look no additional than blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis)! It’s typically in comparison with buffalograss and might even be interplanted with buffalograss to create a pure garden of native crops. 

In contrast to buffalograss, it tends to remain clumpy, particularly if water ranges are low, and it doesn’t unfold as shortly. As a plant of perennial origin, it does nicely throughout heat seasons, particularly in its native habitat. When left to develop to full maturity, it produces flowers that hold on the ideas of the blades and resemble eyelashes. 

The flowers of those grass crops produce seeds that may propagate much more blue grama grass. In addition they act as a meals supply for birds and different small animals. Like different grass crops of its form, blue grama spreads by way of the backyard by way of underground quick rhizomes, though slowly. 

When grown as decorative grasses, grama crops can add visible curiosity to your panorama by creating distinction amongst the flowers in your backyard, making a natural-looking wildflower meadow. These water-wise, native crops are additionally the larval host plant for skippers, butterflies, and moths. The flower and leaf entice grownup species that lay eggs on the leaf blades of the plant. 

Fast Care Information

Blue grama grass is a local grass within the western United States. Supply: lostinfog
Widespread Identify Blue grama grass, mosquito grass
Scientific Identify Bouteloua gracilis
Household Poaceae
Top & Unfold 30-36 inches tall and broad
Gentle Full solar
Soil Tolerates quite a lot of soil varieties
Water Low water, drought resistant
Pests & Illnesses Grasshoppers, rust fungus

All About Blue Grama Grass

Closeup of blue grama grass flowers
Closeup of younger blue grama grass flowers. Supply: AndreyZharkikh

The Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama grass) plant is mostly present in components of Western Canada and south throughout the Rocky Mountains, Nice Plains, Colorado Springs, and a few Midwest states into Mexico. It’s thought-about one of many Large 4 native grasses in Texas right down to Mexico, and it’s Colorado’s state grass! 

It’s also generally known as mosquito grass as a result of the seed pods have been mentioned to resemble mosquitoes floating above the blades. It’s perennial in origin, which suggests you possibly can add these crops to your panorama or backyard and luxuriate in them for years to return with little or no effort. 

Blue grama grass has slim leaf blades which are about 6 inches of their absolutely mature kind and generally curl, with leaf margins that roll inwards. They’re a stunning sight to see on the plains combined with different native crops. Their flower heads kind from flowers that seem on one aspect of the stems and look considerably like a single hen’s wing. This one aspect is the place the seed is swept throughout the plains for propagation.  

This heat season grass loves full solar. It may possibly survive quite a lot of soils, together with sandy soils. When these native crops are utilized in a garden, they’ll face up to mowing to a peak of three inches and might be stored as low-growing grass crops. In case you want to maintain them inexperienced, be sure to water them throughout instances of utmost drought. Blue grama crops will naturally flip brown after they go dormant within the winter. 

Blue Grama Grass Care

Blue grama grass is one in all many decorative grasses native to the good plains. When grown in its native habitat, it’s low upkeep and drought-resistant. 

Solar and Temperature for These Native Vegetation

Blue grama crops develop finest in full solar, with not less than 6 to eight hours of daylight per day. They do finest in USDA rising zones 5-9. Blue grama’s perennial origin means that it’ll go dormant within the wintertime and are available again with new progress within the spring. When planting from seed, it’s finest to attend till the autumn so the seed can chilly stratify over the chilly seasons. This heat-loving native grass requires heat temperatures of spring with a view to support germination. 

Essentially the most energetic interval of the rising season happens when temperatures are between 70-90 levels Fahrenheit. Along with being warmth tolerant, it’s additionally chilly tolerant. Progress will sluggish because the nighttime temperatures start to drop within the fall, and ultimately, within the winter, it’ll flip tawny, however it’ll by no means utterly die again. Though blue grama grass is native to western Colorado, it does have an elevation restrict on the hardiness of 7500 ft.

Native Grass Water and Humidity

Since blue grama grass loves the complete solar and heat temperatures, do your watering within the morning earlier than the warmth of the day. This manner, the water will be capable to penetrate to the roots earlier than the solar has an opportunity to evaporate the moisture. As your native grasses develop into established, their watering wants will change. 

Of their first yr of progress, they need to be watered not less than 2 instances per week throughout the rising season. Of their second yr, this may be decreased to 1 time per week. Of their third yr, this may be additional decreased to 1 time each 1-2 weeks. Within the wintertime, snowfall ought to present ample moisture, however in notably dry winters, they are often watered as soon as a month so long as air and soil temperatures are above 40 levels and the soil just isn’t frozen. 

As soon as your blue grama grass has reached maturity, then they develop into extraordinarily drought resistant and might survive on as little as 7 inches of annual rain. Throughout prolonged dry spells – even within the warmth of summer time –in the event that they aren’t irrigated, they go dormant and should flip brown however will spring again to life on the first signal of moisture. In case you want to maintain your grama grass inexperienced, then you might select to water it throughout these intervals. 


Grama grass flower stalk
Blue grama flowers are on a stalk that rises above the slender grass blades. Supply: Matt Lavin

This bunch grass is understood for tolerating a variety of soil varieties. Blue grama grows naturally in dry prairies and is usually present in rocky or clay soil. It does finest, nonetheless, with well-draining soil. It’s not present in moist, poorly drained soils and might be broken by overwatering or soggy/waterlogged soil situations. For that reason, it doesn’t tolerate being planted in areas with a excessive water desk. 

Blue grama grass additionally prefers impartial soil and might’t deal with acidic situations. In case you’re planting in a extremely wealthy medium, add ample quantities of sand to assist with drainage. Wonderful sandy soils are simply superb for this grass. 


One of many advantages of rising blue grama grass is that it’s very low upkeep. It may possibly survive on little or no water, can tolerate all kinds of soil varieties, and doesn’t require any common fertilizer or soil amendments. Though fertilizing isn’t needed, it may be particularly useful in the event you’re utilizing it as a local different and wish to preserve its inexperienced coloration. Fertilize with nitrogen every year in June. When beginning blue grama grass from seed, it could actually profit from the enhance of a layer of compost on the planting web site, though this isn’t a should. 


To grasp the pruning necessities for blue grama grass, you need to first perceive its pure progress habits. Through the energetic rising season from mid-Could to October, the blades shall be mild inexperienced in coloration. Throughout late summer time, the seed heads will kind (when grown as a decorative and left unmowed). Through the winter, it’ll go dormant and switch mild brown in coloration. It may be left standing so as to add curiosity to your winter panorama. Then in February, it could actually deal with mowing to a peak of three inches and can then placed on new progress within the spring. 

When used as a garden different, it could actually deal with being recurrently mowed to a peak of three inches, or it may be left to develop a bit taller for a extra pure garden look. This native grass can tolerate heavy foot site visitors, so it will be superb in an space that youngsters and pets frequent. As winter approaches, let your grass acquire some peak to direct power towards the foundation system. It should brown throughout the winter however will come again to life within the spring. 

Blue Grama Propagation

Like most grasses, the blue grama grass species is principally propagated by seeds. That is very true when utilizing this plant as a garden different which would require you to broadcast seeds throughout a big space. There are native seed firms that promote seeds of wildflowers and native grasses combined collectively. To plant them, broadcast the seeds over an space within the fall after which cowl them calmly with a superb layer of sandy or silty materials to maintain them from blowing away within the wind. Then water them in and water as soon as each two weeks to assist them germinate.  

That is a lot simpler than transplanting bunches as they’re sluggish rising and take their time spreading. Rising from transplants is the perfect methodology of propagation when utilizing Bouteloua gracilis as a decorative grass. Then you definately get the advantage of a completely established plant in your panorama a lot sooner. It’s also possible to plant plugs of grass combined with species of native wildflowers. 

Troubleshooting Blue Grama Grass

Blue grama flowers
The flowers seem like little feathers on the tip of grass stems. Supply: lostinfog

As talked about above, blue grama grass is usually pest and illness free! There are, nonetheless, some issues to be looking out for. 

Grama Grass Rising Issues

Most rising issues happen when this plant is overwatered. If the bottom feels spongy, you discover standing water, or in case your grass is all of the sudden wilting, this might be an indication you’re overwatering. This plant is very drought tolerant, and it’s higher to water much less quite than overwater. It may possibly bounce again and thrive on little or no moisture. Nevertheless, an excessive amount of moisture could cause harm.  


Grasshopper species have been identified to chomp on the leaf of blue grama grasses, however typically, their feeding isn’t sufficient to trigger main harm to the plant. Often, the grasshopper inhabitants is well managed by your neighborhood birds and different small wildlife. 


Essentially the most prevalent illness challenge with this grass is fungal rust which, as its identify would counsel, is brought on by a fungus. One signal of rust fungus is small reddish-orange spots on the leaves. This fungus prefers heat, moist, and humid environments. Watering solely in excessive drought and solely when the clumps of grass have an opportunity to dry within the coolest a part of the day can assist keep away from these points. 

Neem oil or a copper fungicide can assist management rust utilized to the foliage can assist management rust on the grass. Cautious making use of these in native habitat restoration initiatives and pollinator gardens, as they are often harmful to pollinators.  

Regularly Requested Questions

Bouteloua gracilis
A thick patch of Bouteloua gracilis. Supply: John Rusk

Q: Does blue grama grass unfold?

A: It does unfold by way of underground roots which are quick rhizomes. Nevertheless, it tends to develop in clumps, particularly in hotter climates. 

Q: What does blue grama grass do?

A: It’s a warm-season grass that can be utilized as an ornamental grass or native different that survives on low ranges of summer time precipitation. When left to develop to its full peak, it’ll put out a flower within the type of horizontal blossom clusters that resemble eyelashes. 

Q: Do you reduce blue grama grass?

A: When used as a local different, it could actually survive mowing to a peak of three inches. When used as a decorative grass, it may be left to develop to its full peak after which reduce in February proper earlier than it begins to placed on new progress within the spring. 

Q: How lengthy does it take blue grama to develop?

A: This low-growing grass is understood to unfold slowly. As a perennial, it’ll slowly unfold yr after yr, relying on the rising situations. 

Q: What animals eat blue grama grass?

A: This grass is usually used as forage for livestock comparable to sheep and cattle. It additionally attracts seed-eating birds and is the larval host plant for skippers, butterflies, and moths. 

Q: Is blue grama deer resistant?

A: Sure, it’s deer-resistant, however it’s liked by elk and bison. 

Q: Is blue grama grass salt tolerant?

A: It’s reasonably tolerant to salt. 

Q: How do you harvest blue grama grass seed?

A: Wait till the seed pods have reached full maturity after the autumn flower has pale. They need to really feel arduous and dry to the contact. The pods ought to break open simply in your hand, revealing the seed. 

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