Warm season Grasses

The information listed on this page is for information purposes only. Bailey Seed does not carry these seeds.

TYPE Texture Kind of
Maintenance Major
Cost of
Seed Establishment
Bahiagrass Coarse toMedium Averageto Good Low Lawns -Erosion & Wear areas Low
Bermuda Fine Average Medium Lawns – Golf & Sports- Dry Low
Carpetgrass Medium Low Low Wet areas Low
Centipede Medium Low – Medium Low Lawns Medium
St. Augustine Coarse Medium Medium Lawns High
Zoysiagrass Med – Fine Medium – Exhibition High Lawns High

BAHIAGRASS (Paspalum notatum): A deep rooted warm season perennial native to South America, bahiagrass is grown from east Texas to Florida, and north to the Carolinas. It is adapted to a wide range of soils on the coastal plain, growing best on sandy soils in a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. The short, strong rhizomes are often exposed. They form dense sod even on sandy soil, and few other species can compete. Forage quality is highest in the early spring, but declines rapidly by mid summer. Used primarily as permanent pasture for beet cattle, it is not satisfactory as a sole source of roughage for dairy cattle. Because of the dense sod it produces, it is used extensively for erosion control and highway shoulders.

BERMUDAGRASS (Cynodon dactylon): More drought resistant than Bahiagrass, Carpetgrass or Dallisgrass, Bermudagrass grows on most reasonably well drained soil as long as it has adequate moisture and plant nutrients. It can tolerate flooding for long periods, but meas little growth on waterlogged soil. Better growth is seed on heavier soils than on sandy soil, probably because heavy soils retain soil moisture and are more fertile. PH levels above 5.5 have increased production. This grass is best adapted to the area south of a line between the southern borders of Kansas and Virginia, and is grown across southern Arizona and California. Improved cultivars, when fertilized and harvested at immature stages have a feeding value nearly as high as timothy. The seed is very small, germinates better when hulled, and needs daily temperatures above 60 degrees for best germination. Bermudagrass is more often propagated by springs than by seed.

CARPETGRASS (Axonopus affinis): This warm season, low growing, sod forming perennial spreads by stolons and by seeds. The growth habit is prostrate, and the rooting of the surface runners forms a dense sod. Carpetgrass is best adapted to the Gulf states where soils rarely freeze. It will grow on soils with a high water table, but not in swampy areas. It is adapted to soils of lower fertility, and is an invader of infertile upland soils along the Gulf Coast. Nutritional value is low, but it is a chief component of unimproved pastures in its area of adaptation. Because of its low growth habit, it is useful for lawns and for golf courses. It was used for erosion control and highway shoulders, but has been replaced by Bahiagrass.

DALLISGRASS (Paspalum dilatatum): A fast growing, strong perennial, dallisgrass grows on a wide variety of soils. It does best on moist, fertile clays and loamy bottom lands. It can withstand extreme drought as long as there is adequate rainfall at some time of the year. The area of adaptation is from New Jersey to Florida, and west to Texas. Growth continues later in the fall and begins earlier in the spring than most warm season grasses. Not being harmed by moderate frost, dallisgrass provides grazing for longer periods than other grasses. When mixed with legumes, it is used primarily for grazing.

JOHNSONGRASS (Sorghum halepense): Now known as a pernicious weed, Johnsongrass was originally brought to the U.S. as a superior forage plant. The early forage analysis tests showed Johnsongrass was approximately equal with timothy for hay. When fertilized and harvested in the boot stage Johnsongrass rated ahead of oat and soybean hays and next to alfalfa for feeding dairy cattle. It is most commonly found in the cotton growing areas but has spread to all but a dozen or so northern states. While other sorghums are annual, Johnsongrass is a perennial. It has extensive creeping rhizome which are scaly. Stems which originate at the notes of the rhizome grow from 3 to 9 feet tall.

SAINT AUGUSTINEGRASS (Stenotaphrum secundatum): Saint Augustinegrass is an extensively creeping, coarse perennial found along the Gulf and southern Atlantic Coast fro m Texas to south Carolina. Being naturally a seashore plant, it will withstand salt spray. The adaptation of this grass is to most soil types, including much soils, as long there is adequate moisture. Saint Augustinegrass thrives in the shade. This grass usually crowds out other grasses and weeds due to the dense sod production. It is well suited for the primarily used for lawns. It is an important pasture plant only in limited areas such as the organic soils of southern Florida.

CENTIPEDEGRASS (Eremochloa ophiuroides): A low growing, creeping perennial grass with medium leaf width which spreads by short jointed thick stolons. Yields are less than Bahiagrass, Bermudagrass and Carpetgrass, so the primary use is for erosion control and lawns. It will grow on both clay and sandy soils with adequate soil moisture and fertility.

NAPIERGRASS (Pennisetum purpureum): A tall perennial plant which grows much like sugarcane, in clumps of 20 to 200 stalks, reaching heights of 8 to 16 feet. It has been used primarily for grzing and soiling. It should be grazed or harvested by the time it reaches 6 feet in height. It is a crop of some importance in the Tropics when properly fertilized and managed.

NATALGRASS (Tricholaena rosea): Adapted only to areas free from freezing and to well drained, poor, dry sandy soils, Natalgrass is grown in southern California, southern Texas and Florida. As a pasture it is readily grazed and is similar to timothy in nutritional value. The plant grows from 2 to 4 feet in height.

PARAGRASS (Brachiaria mutica): Adapted to Florida and the Texas Gulf Coast, Paragrass grows on bottom lands, in marches, on margins of lakes and streams, and on soils too moist for many other crops. It is used for grazing, hay, and for soiling.

RESCUEGRASS (Bromus catharticus): Adapted to areas of mild and humid winters, rescuegras s has limited agricultural value. It is a short lived perennial, grows to 2 to 4 feet in height, and when fertilized has a nutritive value similar to oats.

VASEYGRASS (paspalum urvillei): Found from North Carolina to Florida, west to Texas, especially on wet soils, vaseygrass is seldom planted, but where found is grazed or made into hay. Grows from 2 to 6 feet tall.


KUDZU (Pueraria lobata): Adapted to well drained loam soils of good fertility of the Southeastern U.S., kudzu has been used for erosion control as well as for hay and pasture. It is a rapidly growing, coarse, hairy vine; stems can grow to over 60 feet in a season. Rooting occurs at nodes on the stolons. Because of its rapid growth, it has become a pest which invades woodlands, climbs utility poles and trees, and covers fences. Kudzu does not withstand heavy grazing or frequent cutting. The forage is palatable and performs well as hay, pasture and silage.

LUPINES (Lupinus species): Many unimproved species of lupines have high content of alkaloids which repel insects and cause resistance to grazing. These are called “bitter lupines.” The improved alkaloid-free or “sweet” lupine are non-toxic to livestock. The improved lupine are adapted only to the lower South as winter annuals. They are adapted to well drained soils and are used for soil improvement, late winter and early spring grazing, and for silage.

The three improved species are blue lupine (Lupinus anqustifolius), yellow lupine (Lupinus luteus), and white lupine (Lupinus albus). Blue lupine is adapted to slightly acid to neutral soils of moderate fertility. It is mor winter hardy than yellow lupine. Yellow lupine is adapted to moderately acid soils of low fertility. Because of its low winter hardiness, it is limited to Florida. White lupine grows in the naturally fertile soils of the lower Mississippi. It is the most winter hardy of the three.

LESPEDEZA (Lespedeza species): The lespedeza’s are important legumes in the southeastern U.S. They are warm season legumes and only grow well during the summer months.

There are three species of primary importance in the south, extending from eastern Kanasas ans Texas to Atlantic seaboard. The annuals are Korean (Lespedeza stipulacea) and striate (Lespediza striata), and perennial is sericea (Lespedeza cuneata).

ALYCECLOVER (Alysicarpus vaginalis): A coarse stemmed, low spreading, leafy plant which can make good quality hay if cut in the early bloom stage. Alyceclover is adapted to the Gulf Coast states.

GUAR (Cyamopsis tetragonaloba): Used for soil improvement or for forage, guar is a coarse, upright, branching plant with inconspicuous flowers. The long, leathery pods contain seeds which is produces as a source of an industrial gum used in food, textile and paper products.