Centipede grass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) grows well throughout the southeastern United States. The grass requires very little maintenance once established and resists drought well. It adapts well to both full sunlight and partial shade. The grass spreads readily using a stolon root system. Centipede grass seed is expensive but it germinates well at a low seeding rate, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
Plant explorer Frank M. Meyer introduced centipede grass in the United States in 1918 from its native homeland, China, according to the University of Florida. It was first cultivated at the Belle Glade Experiment Station, where it was called "Chinese love grass." It is still often called "Chinese lawn grass." A wide range of cultivars have been established.
Due to the high cost of centipede grass it is imperative to purchase grass seed that offers at least 90 percent purity to ensure an adequate lawn develops. One pound of centipede grass can cost as much as 5 pounds of Bahia lawn grass seed, which is similar in appearance and texture. Grass seed purity refers to the amount of viable seed versus the amount of weed seeds or other grass seeds in the mixture. If the seed manufacturer states that the seed bag contains at least 90 percent pure centipede grass, make sure the bag also states that at least 85 percent of the seeds will successfully germinate.
Poor Purity and Low Germination
Avoid purchasing centipede grass if the manufacturer states on the bag that the purity ratio is only around 50 percent. The grass that germinates will contain only 50 percent centipede grass with the additional 50 percent of the seeds being weeds or other, less successful grass varieties. Ensure that the manufacturer states on the bag the seeds have a good germination rate of at least 85 percent; anything less will leave the lawn looking patchy, thin and weak.
Seed centipede grass at a rate of one-half pound per 1,000 square feet to ensure adequate germination occurs. Seed between April and July so the centipede grass has ample time to germinate and establish itself. Centipede grass does not do well if sown in the fall months because a cold spell could weaken germination. The young grass also may not have ample time to establish itself before a hard frost hits.
Centipede grass seeds are very slow to germinate--it often takes two to three weeks. Because it takes so long for the seeds to germinate it is advised to lay a fine layer of mulch over the sown seeds so they are not washed away during a rain storm or eaten by birds. Once germination occurs and the grass begins to establish itself mow it at a height of 1 1/2 inches to encourage root growth and grass spread.