A sod-forming perennial, Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) grows throughout the Southern United States, Africa, India, South America and Australia. Frequently used as turf grass, it is often utilized in sports fields. The grass also makes livestock forage. The plant's vigorous growth makes it an unwanted weed in many locations.
Only common Bermudagrass establishs itself easily with seeds. Cultivars require sprigging, plugging and sodding to begin growth. Common Bermudagrass grows in arid conditions, unlike cultivars. It becomes semi-dormant during drought, but it sets abundant seeds in an attempt to continue its life cycle, according to the Texas A&M University. The grass adapts to a wide range of soils and produces a green shade.
Bermudagrass produces fibrous roots that are continuously growing and dying. The mature roots of the grass appear yellowish brown in color but the new roots are white. During the spring months, a large majority of the older roots die back and the new roots take over. The grass also reduces its root growth during drought. The roots lose up to 50 percent of their weight, but once the rains returnthe grass roots grow and the Bermuda grass recovers.
Bermudagrass requires adequate temperatures to grow and live. Without warm days, it cannot grow. In extreme cold, it easily dies. The grass tolerates a nighttime temperature drop down to 34 degrees F if the daytime temperature reaches at least 70 degrees F. If the daytime temperature plummets to below 50 degrees F, the grass discolors and death can occur to the top growth of the grass. The root system enters dormancy and will not produce new top growth until warm temperatures return.
Light and Life
Bermudagrass requires full sunlight to maintain its life and growth. Without full sunlight, the growth is seriously stunted or the grass may completely die. Even moderate shading causes the grass to produce weak blades that are narrow and do not have the stiffness for which Bermuda grass is known. Its root system becomes sparse and the overall appearance of the grass rapidly declines. When adequate light is provided the grass has vigorous spreading habits and seed production. The hardiness of the grass helped establish it as a dominat lawn species in subtropical and tropical regions of North America.
Large patches of dead Bermudagrass can develop that measure more than 3 feet in diameter if the grass becomes afflicted with brown patch fungus (Rhizoctonia solani). The fungus causes the rapid demise of the life cycle of Bermudagrass if prompt treatment with fungicide is not achieved. The fungus quickly attacks the grass blades, the crown of the grass and the root system. Bermudagrass is more susceptible to the fungus if it is over fertilized or drought stressed. The fungus is the most prolific when the night temperatures hover above 68 degrees F and there is ample humidity in the air.