Cultivars for "Warm Season Grasses"
There is now a growing number of warm season grass cultivars available to the public. That hasn't always been the case. In previous years, most warm season grasses could only be established by using plugs or sod. Varieties that could be grown from seed were still under development. For some grass types, such as St. Augustinegrass, seeded cultivars are now available, but the jury is still out as to its effectiveness.
Recent advancements, however, have developed varieties that can be established by seed. In most cases, the seeded varieties are often very slow to establish when starting with bare soil. As you might expect, sod and plugs remain the fastest way of getting a new lawn. However, the ability to be established by sod is a major advantage over most cool season grasses. Many Cool season grasses lack the rhizomes and stolons needed to hold sod together. The rhizomes and stolons found in most warm season grasses not only hold sod together, but enable it to spread and fill in damages areas quickly. To learn more about how grass grows, including rhizomes and stolons, check out the page on
This page should help you identify some of the popular cultivars for warm season grasses. However, it is not an exhaustive list. It is important to note that not all varieties of grasses will do equally well within its adaptation zone. The amount of rainfall, temperature and other factors of your area are important to consider when choosing a particular cultivar. You should always check with your local university extension office to see which variety performs best in your area. Click on
to see a map of U.S. grass adaptation zones.
Below are some common turf industry definitions associated with cultivars.
- Cultivars- improved varieties of grass that are maintained by cultivation. "Cultivar" and "variety" are often used interchangeably.
- Quality- refers to overall appearance and could include some or all of the following such as density, texture, color, resistance to insects and disease.
- Color- rated for its color up to very dark green.
- Density- how thick the turf will become.
- Seeded variety- indicates that this grass species is started by seed.
- Texture- indicates how thick or narrow the blade is.
- Vegetative variety- Grass is started by plugs, squares, or sod.
- Disease Resistant- i.e. Brown Patch Resistant- improved varieties that are bred for greater resistance to a disease or diseases common to that species.
Note: In plant terminology, the word "Resistant" doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t get the disease. It means it has been made more resistant than the original or previous varieties. What degree of resistance it offers fluctuates with varieties and what care the grass receives.
List of popular warm season grass cultivars
Bermudagrass is a warm season grass that is the preferred grass for many southern states and in parts of the transition zone. It produces a dense turf and can be started by seed and by vegetation. Generally, the types that are started vegetatively cannot be purchased in seed form. This grass offers good drought resistance. It is a full sun grass and does not do well in shade.
Common, Blackjack, Guymon, Jackpot, Mirage, Mohawk, Princess, Riviera, Savannah, Sidney, Sultan, Sundevil II, Transcontinental
Savannah is used by the Texas Highway Department for roadsides and right-of-ways. It is a hardy grass that will take a lot of abuse.
Midfield, Midiron, Midlawn, Patriot, Quickstand, Tifsport, Tifway
Zoysiagrass is native to Japan. Depending on where you live, some varieties will perform better than others. Zenith, for example, works well in some parts of Florida while other varieties have been reported to fail. In the Transition Zone, Japonica and Meyer seem to do well because of better cold tolerance. Be sure to check your local university extension office for the best type for your area. Zoysiagrass produces a dense, drought resistant turf with good shade tolerance. At one time, zoysia grass plugs or sod were the primary method of establishment, but now you can choose from seeded varieties. Keep in mind that it will be much slower to establish from seed.
Sunrise, Zenith, Japonica
Z. Japonica is the primary zoysia variety introduced from Asia. It has poor tolerance to extreme heat and excellent cold tolerance. Its southern range ends half way into the transition zone and extends north to the canadian border.
Cashmere, El Toro, emerald, Meyer, Matrella, tenuifolia, Z3, Z26
Tenuifolia is a tropical variety and has the least cold tolerance. It has beautiful, fine blades.
Z. Japonica and Z. tenuifolia have been crossed to provide a fine bladed grass with moderate cold tolerance. However, due to the wide range of adaptability between varieties, you should check with your county extension office for the preferred variety for your location.
St. Augustine is an excellent turf grass that grows well in southern states. It has poor cold tolerance so its northern range of adaptation ends around the Louisiana/Arkansas line. It is used extensively in the southern U.S, especially along the coastal regions. In these areas, St. Augustinegrass is preferred over Bermudagrass because of its quality turf and better shade tolerance. It is started vegetatively.
Texas Common, Floratine, Floratam, Seville, Releigh, Palmetto
Centipedegrass is native to China and brought here in the early twentieth century. It is favored by some because of its low fertility requirements. It doesn't require the maintenance of other turfgrasses and is sometimes referred to as a "lazy man’s grass". It can tolerate partial shade and is a drought resistant grass. Centipedegrass can be started from seed or sod. It cannot tolerate cold, making its range of adaptation similar to that of St. Augustine.
Tifblair, Oaklawn, Tennessee Hardy
Buffalograss is native to the arid areas of the western plains states. Older varieties form open, low density turf with blue-green color. The newer varieties form low growing, dense turf with improved color. It uses 50% to 75% less water than Kentucky Bluegrass. Its range is far reaching from the northwestern states down to central Texas. Buffalo grass seed and sod are available.
Texoka, Sharp’s improved, Bison, Plains, Topgun, Tatonka, Cody, Sharp Shooter
Prairie, 609, 378, Legacy, Prestige
609 and Prairie are known to suffer winter damage in higher elevations. Legacy and 378 are winter hardy throughout its range. These varieties are not available in seed.
Cool Season Grass Cultivars
Click on the link for a description and list of many cool season grass cultivars available to the public.
U.S. Climate Zones for Turfgrass Adaptation
Unlike some plants, you can't bring in your grass when conditions don't favor it. Choosing the right grass for your climate zone is important.
Photosynthesis made easy! Understanding basic plant function will greatly improve your lawn care, especially fertilization. You will never look at your grass the same way.
Plant Structure and Growth Habits
In the world of turf grass, understanding plant structure and growth can provide helpful insights to maintaining a beautiful lawn.
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