St. Augustine grass is well adapted for lawns in warm sub-tropical climates, such as the southern Gulf Coast states. In recent years, researchers have created new strains of St. Augustine that are more disease and drought resistant. Floratam is one of those varieties, a hardy form of St. Augustine created in 1972 that has become one of the leading strains.
St. Augustine is native to the Caribbean, Africa and the Mediterranean. St. Augustine varieties are currently used in the Gulf Coast area of the United States and the Mediterranean region, while the Floratam strain is found mainly in south Florida.
Floratam can be distinguished from other varieties of St. Augustine by the longer and wider leaf blades, and by the purple color of the stolons, or horizontal shoots, which can be up to three inches long.
Floratam is resistant to diseases such as SAD, or St. Augustine Decline, a virus with no ready cure. It is also resistant to chinch bugs and is one of the most drought tolerant of the St. Augustine varieties.
Floratam is not as cold resistant as some other St. Augustine varieties, and requires more sun, as much as four to five hours a day.
Types of St. Augustine include Bitter Blue, Palmetto with its finer texture and better shade tolerance, Raleigh, a cold-resistant strain, and Floratam.
Floratam can be hard to distinguish from less hardy varieties of St. Augustine. Be sure you are buying actual Floratam and not Bitter Blue, a variety much like Floratam in appearance, but not as tolerant of weed control chemicals.