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Scientific: Bouteloua gracilis
Common: blue grama, mosquito grass
Family: Poaceae
Origin: Widely distributed across North America found mostly in short grass-dominated ecosystems. In Arizona, at elevations above 3,500 feet.

Pronounciation: Bow-te-LOU-a gra-SIL-is

Hardiness zones
USDA 3-11

Landscape Use: Rock gardens, transitional landscapes, oasis landscape design themes, best planted in groups as a fine textural accent.

Form & Character: Relatively smallish, light, open, breezy, airy, has a psychological cooling, and a softening effect in the landscape.

Growth Habit: Perennial bunch grass clumping to 2 feet tall at maturity. Biologically active during warm-season and dormant during winter.

Foliage/Texture: Green to somewhat glaucous green, narrow and elongated to 12 inches; fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Numerous flowering stems (culms) extend up to 12 to 18 inches above the foliage. At the culm terminus are usually one to four comb-like floral spikes that extend outward at a distinct angle, sometimes slightly curled. Each spike contains 20 to 90 spikelets to 0.25 inches that are variously fertile (floret) or sterile. The fertile florets contain glumes and bracts with three short bristles (awns) at the tip. If pollinated, the florets produces a small, oblong brown seed.

Seasonal Color: None

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: Full sun, except avoid summertime western exposures.

Soil: Tolerant of most soil conditions, except prefers good drainage.

Watering: As like other ornamental grasses in Phoenix, irrigation during the summer months is key to maintaining good plant appearance. Irrigate at least weekly to bi-weekly during summer to maintain a robust plant appearance. In contrast, less frequent to no supplemental irrigation is needed during winter as plants trend to dormancy depending on the annual extent of Phoenix winter cold.

Pruning: Shear (only once per year in late winter) or burn to the ground in late winter or early spring to remove thatch (dead and slow to decompose leaves and shoots because of the dry climate) and re-induce vigor. Make sure to check local laws and regulations before burning outdoors.

Propagation: Division anytime, propagation of seed collected fresh during fall and early winter.

Disease and Pests: None in central Arizona.

Additional comments: Blue grama is a warm-season, C4 bunch grass with an interesting fine textural accent, especially when flowering or fruiting. 'Blonde Ambition' is a popular cultivar for the Phoenix area.

Minor factoid: Blue grama is valued as forage and is quite palatable to livestock.