Sideoats Grama thrives in poor soil.
image by US Federal Government public domain
Sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) derives its name from the presentation of oat-like seeds that hang to one side of the stalk, although they actually grow from both sides. Its blue-green foliage and delicate purple and orange flowers that bloom in midsummer make this impressive grass ideal for landscaping dry sunny areas that may challenge other plants. Native to Central North American grasslands and south to Argentina, this grass is drought-tolerant and requires little care.
Select a sunny location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight during the summer months. Although sideoats grama tolerates partial shade, it thrives in full sun and develops richly-hued foliage and blooms.
Prepare the soil by tilling to a depth of 6-8 inches. Add organic matter like compost or peat moss if drainage is slow, otherwise sideoats grows well in nearly any soil and adapts to pH levels between 6.1 and 7.8. Rake the area smooth.
Plant seed (once the soil has warmed to 50 degrees F) to a depth of ¼ to ½ inch and space to 16 inches or more, depending on your personal preferences. Closely planted seeds create a dense mass of ornamental grass, but can be difficult to divide and move once they have matured. For an established planting of sideoats in the first year, close planting is required.
Water to moisten soil and keep evenly moist until seeds germinate and seedlings emerge, generally within 7 days. Reduce water once seedlings are established and water only in drought conditions.