Buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides) is a drought tolerant, perennial turf grass. The grass is blue-green in color with fine textured spikes. It flourishes wild from Minnesota to Mexico and into Montana. The turf has no pests or disease problems, according to the University of Texas. Buffalo grass has become a popular low-maintenance turf grass grown at schools, businesses, cemeteries and parks because of its low water requirements.
The seeds of buffalo grass are quite large because they are contained within what is known as a bur. The bur is a protective hard covering that holds two to three tiny seeds within its depth. The seeds require a cold stratification period of up to two months to successfully germinate in the wild, but purchased seeds for lawns and turfs are already treated and stratified prior to sale.
Buffalo grass germination occurs when warm spring days arrive. Seeds require a soil temperature of 70 to 80 degrees before germination commences. Once the tiny shoots of grass appear over the course of four weeks, runners begin to form from the grass shoots and seeds. The runners form a nice turf quickly.
The summertime is the season of highest growth and spread for the buffalo grass. The ideal temperature is 80 to 95 degrees F during the day with a nighttime temperature of 68 degrees F. Growth range during the height of the season is usually 3 to 6 inches.
Buffalo grass is dioecious. This means that there are female and male plants. Seed production requires that both male and female plants grow near each other for pollination to occur. Female buffalo grass never attains the height of the male buffalo grass. The flowers remain low to the ground. Male flowers easily grow 6 inches in height. The flowers on the male grass plants are called flags.
Buffalo grass is a prolific spreading grass that utilizes runners and stolons to cover great distances. Stolons spread from several inches outward to several feet in length. There are no underground stems to contain the grass, which makes pulling the grass up from flowerbeds or other areas quite easy.
During the winter months or times of extreme drought, the grass goes dormant. It ceases to grow and will loose its green color. The grass often appears yellow or even brown and dead during dormancy. When the springtime arrives with its rainfall, the grass begins to green again and growth is restored.