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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - August 03, 2012

From: Kensington, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Buffalograss from Kensington MD
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hi, I'm going to follow-up on the buffalograss question from Charlottesville, since it wasn't answered fully. I'm wondering the same thing: can buffallograss survive the wet conditions of the more humid East? I'm also in 6B near DC and worry it's going to be too wet here for buffalograss..or perhaps does it need similar conditions to other prairie grasses like panicum or prairie dropseed?

ANSWER:

We are sorry we couldn't find the previous answer to which you referred, and that you considered it wasn't answered fully. About the best we can do is refer you to some research materials on Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss). Since we are not sure just what information you already have, please bear with us if we repeat something. We have a How-To Article on Buffalograss that quite extensively makes recommendations on where and whether it will grow. If you follow the plant link above to our webpage on this grass, you will see that it is not native to the East Coast. From this USDA Plant Profile Map, with the exception of Virginia, it does not occur on the East Coast, which would probably indicate that you are correct that it would encounter more moisture than would be good for it. Also, as do many native grasses, Buffalograss requires full sun, 6 hours or more of sun daily.

As for whether it would require the same conditions as panicum or prairie dropseed, we found 9 members of the genus Panicum native to Maryland and arbitrarily chose Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass), which has medium water use and can get by on sun or part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun daily). However, it is by no means a turf grass, so we're not sure if that comparison counts. Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie dropseed) is also native to Maryland, and requires low water use, dry soil and full sun. Again, this sounds like buffalograss, but not like the conditions you are describing.

In summary, although we are still  not sure what information you felt was missing from a previous answer (which we also couldn't find), we would have to say that buffalograss does not seem like a very good choice for the area you are living in now. When you have read the webpages on each grass and the article to which we referred you, you know all we know.

 

From the Image Gallery


Buffalograss
Bouteloua dactyloides

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Prairie dropseed
Sporobolus heterolepis

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