Bouteloua gracilis (boo-te-LOO-uh gra-SILL-is)
Blue grama is a warm-season perennial grass that is native to California and to the plains states, where it was one of the key species of the praires. It is often used as an ornamental grass in water efficient landscapes. If plugs are used, they should be planted close; it is a bunchgrass, but it has short rhizomes (tillers) that help each plant grow wider over time. It dies back in winter in the Central Valley but maintains its color in warmer coastal areas. Otherwise, it should make an excellent warm-season turf.
Blue grama ornamental plant
With the help of Jim Hanson, board member of the Calif. Native Grasslands Assoc., we planted B. gracilis plugs and seeds on May 13, 2011. We planted the 'Hachita' variety on one side and a shorter accession on the other, at 5 in. spacing. We also seeded in these areas. It's not necessary to plant both plugs and seeds, but it gives us a sense for how the plants look early on, and the seed will fill in the spaces. Seeding is far cheaper and less time consuming than planting plugs at 5 in. apart.
Jim Hanson and Ria DeBiase planting blue grama plugs, May 2011
Blue grama after plugs/seeds planted; taller Hachita on right