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Bouteloua curtipendula September 2017 Know What You Grow

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Spring and Summer have past by this year in a blink of a eye.  With moving and projects to attend I have neglected the Plant of the Month.  With Autumn approaching it is the grasses that take center stage as the flowers of spring and summer fade away.  It is the texture and the reds, rusts, browns, tans, and burgundies of grasses that dominate the cool fall breezes.  Side-Oats Grama (Bouteloua crutipdendula) is featured the Plant of the Month since noticed it thriving in a planting on a steep restored slope along the Mississippi along with Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium).   The masses of grasses not only help hold a steep slope but add movement to the landscape.


BOTANICAL NAME  Bouteloua curtipendula

COMMON NAME  Side-Oats Grama

DESCRIPTION  Native grass of Minnesota that forms 2-3 foot clumps of wiry stems.  Purplish, oat-like capsules form on one side of thin stems.  Tiny purple flowers appear from these capsules before these spikelets bleach to a tan color in the fall.  Basal foliage often turns purple or red in fall.  Can spread by rhizomes or seed.

FAMILY  Poaceae

HEIGHT  30 inches

WIDTH   24 inches

HABIT Upright

ZONES  3 to 8


FLOWER COLOR  Orange to Red

BLOOM SEASON  July to August

COMPANION PLANTS Echinacea, Coreopsis, Liatris, Agastache

GROWING AND MAINTENANCE TIPS  Plant in well draining soils that have medium to dry moisture.  Tolerates  sandy soils to heavy clays.  Cut back in late winter.

NOTES Mass in meadows, prairies, slopes or native gardens.  Cited for as a food source for at least five types of skipper moths.  Honors two Spanish brothers Claudius (d.1842) and Exteban Boutelou (d. 1813) that were professors in botany and agriculture.