David M. Kopec, Extension Turfgrass Specialist
Bermudagrass is by far the most widely adapted grass for Southern Arizona. Just look at the neglect it takes and how hard it is to get rid of (if you don't know how)!
All bermudagrasses come from Africa or Eurasia and there are many kinds of bermudagrass species. In the turfgrass industry, we mainly deal with seeded types of Cynodon dactylon and sterile vegetative hybrids of the species cross of Cynodon dactylon x Cynodontransvaalensis.
Seeded bermudagrasses are either open pollinated types of 'Arizona Common' bermudagrass, or improved varieties which are screened and developed for better lawn-turf performance. These types of bermudagrass are easily established from seed in the summertime. Once established as adult plants, they will make seed heads, exude pollen sacks and shed viable pollen. Some of the early lawn varieties of Cynodon dactylon include Nu-Mex Sahara, Paco Verde, Sun Devil, Guymon and Sonesta. Newer varieties include Blue Buddah, Sultan, OKS91-11, Savannah, Pyramid, Mirage, etc. Some of these feature darker color, finer leaf texture and make a denser turf. A seeding rate of 0.75 to 1.25 lbs./1000 ft2 is adequate on a freshly prepared seed bed.
Sterile Vegetative Hybrids:
These "hybrids," as explained before, are the result of crossing two different species of bermudagrass. Common bermuda (Cynodon dactylon) x African bermudagrass (Cynodontransvaalensis). The result is a seed which will germinate, but never make seeds itself. Think of it as a "seedless watermelon," in that you grow the product, but the product produces no seeds. Because of this, sterile vegetative hybrid bermudagrasses must be established by vegetative means; by sod, sprigging or plugs. Sterile vegetative hybrids will produce a seed head. They will produce a pollen sac, but no pollen will be shed. Many homeowners are confused by these facts and believe that their "hybrid bermudagrass" will produce pollen because it makes a seed head. However, this is not true.
Sterile hybrid bermudagrasses have been mostly, but not always, selected to have the denser, finer leaf habit of the African parent. These include the varieties of 'Tifgreen 328' (for golf courses), 'Tifway 419' (for golf course fairways and home lawns/mowed with a reel-type mower), 'Santa Ana' and 'Midiron.' 'Midiron' is sold in Arizona as 'E-Z Turf' and is an excellent all around purpose turfgrass. It can be mowed at low mowing heights of 7/8" with a reel type mower, or at higher mowing heights with a rotary mower. These grasses are established by either sodding or plugging on home lawns. Large turfed areas are usually hydrosprigged, which is a unique process. Remember that any bermudagrass can be propagated vegetatively.
Here are some other exceptions.
The sod variety 'Texturf 10' is actually a single plant selection of a common bermudagrass plant. This variety will make pollen, but will only make seed if pollen from stray or other bermudagrass is close by. A gigantic field of 'Texturf 10' all alone will not make seed, just pollen.
The seeded variety 'Princess' is a seed producing hybrid variety. It is legally termed a hybrid, due to the arrangement and selection of seed producing parent plants in production fields. 'Princess' produces a lawn which looks much finer then most other seeded types of Cynodondactylon plants and is darker green in color. Before 'Princess,' hybrid bermudagrasses were all classified as sterile vegetative hybrids. Now with the new 'Princess' variety things get confusing.
Just remember: If you buy bermudagrass from seed, it will make seed.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, James A. Christenson, Director, Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, The University of Arizona. The University of Arizona is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation in its programs and activities.