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Agriculture Today

The best use for buffalo grass

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April 18, 2012 | 4,199 views | Post a comment

Q. A while back there was all this hoopla about buffalo grass. What ever happened? Nobody seems to be planting it.

A. Buffalo grass is a native grass and the most drought-tolerant turf choice, but it is not well-adapted for use as a lawn grass. It does not make a tight sod. Grow it on a level piece of good soil and it will be infested by weeds (quite often Bermuda grass) within several years. Buffalo grass does best west of San Antonio in low rainfall areas. Buffalo grass can work if you are skillful with pre-emergent herbicides and/or you grow it as a groundcover. Mow it six inches tall on a southern or western slope with heavy soil. Grow buffalo grass in full sun.

Q. What are the orange-red flowers blooming in some landscapes? They are on a large multi-stemmed shrub and cover the whole plant.

A. It sounds like you are describing pomegranate. They have beautiful flowers that last through April and then produce a wonderful fruit. The fruit looks like an apple with a jester’s cap. Pomegranate juice is all the rage because of its nutrient value and low calorie count. The most common selection is called “wonderful” but there are many choices of several sizes including dwarf ornamental plants.

Q. Tell us again what are the best peach varieties for this area?

A. I like Florida King, Junegold, and La Feliciana because they can produce fruit in our low chill winters.

Q. It has been warm this spring. Can we fertilize our lawn early?

A. Fertilize your lawn with a slow-release lawn fertilizer when you have mowed real grass (not weeds) twice. It may be now but is probably closer to May 1.

Q. For some reason my potted-up tomatoes grow tall and spindly. The ones in one-gallon containers at the nursery look better with more foliage. Should I toss my spindly plants in favor of the better-looking ones?

A. I bet you either grew your potted-up tomatoes in too much shade, or they were in a hot greenhouse. They will probably recover but the full-leafed plants from the nursery will produce more tomatoes, faster.

Q. Sunflower seeds are germinating under my bird feeders. Can I transplant them to the garden?

A. Yes, they transplant easily and will produce sunflowers. The house finches, lesser goldfinches, and maybe even cardinals will pull the seeds from the head after the flowers fade.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s project director of regional initiatives and special projects. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, email him at reader@wcn-online.com.

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