Emerald Zoysia is a temperate-to-subtropical lawn grass. It is not marketed as a cultivar that can be grown from seed, because it is a hybrid of two Zoysia species, japonica and tenufolia. Plant hybrids typically don't produce seeds that grow into plants with their same characteristics, according to the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden. Seed from a hybrid often creates a throwback to one of the species from which it was developed. But it is worth considering Emerald Zoysia's characteristics relative to its only seeded cousins, Zenith and Compadre.
All Zoysia grasses can survive harsh winters and summers as well as irregular watering, according to the American-Lawns website. Japonica is particularly known for its cold hardiness and for being the fastest-growing Zoysia, whereas tenufolia—Emerald's other parent—has the finest texture of the family. Consequently, American-Lawns notes, Emerald exhibits both qualities. Sometimes it is referred to as the "cadillac" of turf. While less cold-hardy than its closest japonica cousin, Meyer Zoysia (also non-seeding), it is softer and more shade tolerant. But Emerald mostly is grown from sod and that is usually the most expensive method for installing a lawn.
Japonica is the only species of the Zoysia family that produces cultivars which can be propagated from seed, according to the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service. One japonica cultivar is Zenith, which the University of Hawaii says "ranked highest" nationally as a turf grass during 2003-2006 evaluation trials. It is medium textured, dark green and similar to the 1951 cultivar Meyer Zoysia, except that Zenith is less dense and more disease resistant. According to the Hancock Seed Company website, Zenith germinates in about 10 days versus 15 for Compadre.
Compadre is Spanish for "companion." The University of Hawaii says that overall, Compadre is much the same as Zenith. However, as Hancock Seed Company notes, Compadre's name was chosen to reflect a distinctive characteristic. Similar to all zoysias, it is a warm-season grass that is drought tolerant and adaptable to different soils. But it can be inter-planted with a cool-season grass such as a turf fescue for a lawn that is green year round.
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