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POA pratensis

Image of Poa pratensis

Forest & Kim Starr

Family

Poaceae

Botanical Name

POA pratensis

Plant Common Name

Kentucky Bluegrass

General Description

Likely the best known of all cool-season turfgrasses, Kentucky bluegrass is a spreading, perennial with a fine texture and beautiful blue-green color. The origin of this popular grass is complicated. It is native to both Europe and parts of northern North America but has been widely used for turf and agricultural fodder, so it has been introduced across the whole of North America, from Alaska to Florida, though it is less common in the Gulf states and arid Southwest. Wild populations can be found in meadows and open woods. Regional germplasm varies in hardiness and heat tolerance, but overall Kentucky bluegrass is a true cool-season grass that grows best when temperatures are mild.

The fine, blue-green blades of this grass form dense, spreading mats. If left unmown, plants can reach up to four feet (nearly one and a quarter meters) in height when in flower. The grassy flower panicles are produced in summer and consist of clusters of silvery blue-green spikelets. These produce lots of seed after pollination by wind. This grass remains bright green until winter cold sends it into dormancy. While dormant, it maintains a dirty green color.

Kentucky bluegrass will tolerate some shade but grows best in full sun. In addition to cooler growing temperatures, it needs average, well-drained soil and steady moisture for good health. Its shallow root system will quickly go dormant if subjected to extended drought. Excessive summertime heat also negatively impacts growth, so this is a poor lawn choice for warm temperate or subtropical regions. Destructive fungal diseases, like dollar spot, powdery mildew and summer patch, are common problems.

With regular mowing, this turfgrass makes a thick, uniform lawn. It is also a valuable grass for grazing ruminants. Before flowering, it is highly nutritious.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Grass

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    1'-4' / 0.3m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer

  • Native To

    World/Pandemic, North America, Europe

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Mat-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Light Green

  • Fruit Color

    Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Blue Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Lawns and Turf

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No