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LOLIUM perenne

Image of Lolium perenne

Forest & Kim Starr

Family

Poaceae

Botanical Name

LOLIUM perenne

Plant Common Name

Perennial Ryegrass

General Description

With exceptionally dark green and glossy leaf blades, perennial ryegrass is a turfgrass valued for use on athletic fields and home lawns when seasonal temperatures are cool. If never mowed, this clumping grass becomes an upright, fountain-shaped mass of narrow leaves and stems that may have hints of pink. When maintained low (about 3 inches/7 cm tall), it creates a dense, finely textured lawn.

The dark green blades of perennial ryegrass sprout from seed and grow quickly. Once established it returns annually and will flower and set seed if not cut. Tall airy floral plumes appear from midsummer to mid-autumn, and look like loose seed heads of rye.

For best growth, sow seeds of perennial ryegrass in a fertile, moist, well-drained soil in full sun. It is a tough plant that will withstand a wide range of soil types that are never hot and dry. It will turn yellow and tan in excessive heat or dry soils, going dormant and resprouting from the roots once ideal conditions return. In regions with cool, moist winters and cool summers this grass is lush and evergreen in lawns. Often it is grown intermixed with other grasses in warm temperate climates, providing a green look to warm-season lawns (like Bermudagrass) in the fall, winter and early spring months. Perennial ryegrass looks its best when temperatures do not exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit and soils remain cool and moist. 'Manhattan' is a variety with finer-textured foliage and creates an especially uniform lawn.

The naturally occurring subspecies multiflorum is known as Italian or annual ryegrass and has larger, coarser leaf blades. Annual ryegrass is shorter-lived than perennial ryegrass, although it can survive like a perennial if the climate is cool and moist. Typically, annual ryegrass is sown in fall to sprout and reduce erosion on hills or in fields, or to provide short-term green color to lawns in mild winter regions.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 7

  • Sunset Zone

    A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Grass

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    18"-24" / 45.7cm - 61.0cm

  • Width

    12"-20" / 30.5cm - 50.8cm

  • Bloom Time

    Summer

  • Native To

    Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, Russia/Siberia, Western Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    White, Light Pink, Violet

  • Fruit Color

    Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Lawns and Turf

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes