By Emmy Ulmschneider and Debbie Roland, Master Gardeners
Sideoats Grama Grass (Bouteloua curtipendula) is the state grass of Texas. A native plant so it is perfect for a xeric garden. It ranges from Canada to Argentina and can often be found in prairies, beside railroad tracks, and is also used to control erosion since it has deep fibrous roots to stabilize the soil. Sideoats Grama is a staple grass in our native prairies and is widely used to restore sites to their native landscape.
This grass thrives in any soil type and loves a hot, dry climate. In the wild, it provides food and cover for small wildlife and forage for livestock and wildlife grazers. In our urban landscapes it is equally at home as an accent plant or part of a wildflower meadow. Its summer blooming flowers are followed by oat like seeds that birds relish. And it is the larval (caterpillar) host or adult host for several skipper butterfly species. Deer will avoid this grass.
This grass likes full sun but will tolerate partial shade and grows in a clump reaching 2’ to 2 ½’ tall. The upper portion of the stems will contain reddish flowers that turn into oat-like growths. Do not overwater. Once established, once a month is sufficient.
In late winter, you simply cut the plant back and allow it to grow again. If you want to save the seeds, carefully run your finger along the stem to remove them. Save in a paper bag to be planted elsewhere in your yard in the spring.
If you are looking for a grass with color, food and cultural value then Sideoats Grama is the grass for you!
Note: I have had inquiries about how to access the Permian Basin Master Gardener complete plant list. Go to westtexasgardening.org. Then click on Resources; then Plant Information; just scroll down to Plant List. If you haven’t been on our website, please come visit us. There is valuable information for all West Texas gardeners.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.