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BOUTELOUA gracilis

Image of Bouteloua gracilis

Mark Kane

Family

Poaceae

Botanical Name

BOUTELOUA gracilis

Plant Common Name

Blue Grama Grass, Mosquito Grass

General Description

Blue grama grass is a perennial warm season grass grown for its fine, gray-green leaves and one-sided decorative flowers. A compact grower, it is native to the arid western United States and Mexico where soils are dry and alkaline.

Fine, narrow, gray-green leaves emerge in spring. In summer slender stems rise above the foliage lined with one-sided flower buds that resemble mosquito larvae. The tiny flowers are reddish purple when they open and quite decorative lining the stem tips. In autumn the foliage turns burgundy before becoming tan in winter. Small birds eat the dry seeds through cold fall and winter months.

Plant blue grama grass in a full sun exposure with absolutely well-drained soil that's alkaline or neutral. Cut back clumps in spring before new blades emerge. This is an ideal grass for meadow plantings or shortgrass prairie restorations but also looks good in rock gardens or mixed borders. It may also be useful as a very low maintenance turfgrass (if mowed) or groundcover for the yard. For turf, it may be seeded alone or blended with buffalo grass.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 5

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21

  • Plant Type

    Grass

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    18"-24" / 45.7cm - 61.0cm

  • Width

    10"-12" / 25.4cm - 30.5cm

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Western United States, Southwestern United States, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Red, Purple

  • Fruit Color

    Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Purple, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Tan

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Dried Flower/Everlasting, Lawns and Turf, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes