Lake Jem Farms Turf Grass And Sod
Palmetto St. Augustine Sod
Palmetto St. Augustine generally has a more attractive color and a texture that is finer than other types of St. Augustine grasses. Palmetto has demonstrated a tolerance to drought, shade, heat, frost, and cold. Palmetto is used primarily in the southern portion of the United States and southern California in a variety of conditions. It is a good choice for both residential use and commercial projects.
St. Augustine Palmetto was discovered by a sod grower in Florida in 1988 and released to the public in 1994. At times, it is called a “semi dwarf” since it has a less lengthy internode and habit than other types of St. Augustine, but it is a bit bigger than the dwarf cultivars. It grows well in partial shade and full sun, but it’s not suitable for dense shade. It’s drought tolerance is debatable, since it is sometimes classified as drought tolerant, but it has not been proven it is more tolerant than other cultivars of St. Augustine. It is not insect resistant and it can be plagued with disease at times, especially in the humid Florida environment. It is usually a lighter green color than other St. Augustine cultivars. It is normally moved to a height of 3.5 inches
Palmetto has quickly become a standard for landscapers and it is currently used in thousands of homes and commercial properties. Of course, Palmetto must be fertilized, maintained, and irrigated just like other types of St. Augustine grass in order to give you an attractive lawn for many years.
Palmetto St. Augustine Description
Palmetto St. Augustine is a semi-dwarf, which makes it appear plush, like Delmar and Seville grasses. However, Palmetto usually forms less thatch than other varieties, even when it is exposed to full sun. The blades have a width that is similar to Raleigh and Bitterblue and it is thinner than Floratam. When Palmetto is mowed to a height of 3.5” it is frequently confused with fescue. However, its leaves have a rounded, tapered end and feel soft, unlike Floratam.
Palmetto remains green for a longer period of time than other types of St. Augustine and much longer than Centipede or Bermuda grass. Palmetto will go dormant if there are several frosts and will stay green in below freezing temperatures in there aren’t any hard frosts. Before going completely dormant, it will change color, with the top becoming tinged with brown. In much of central and south Florida Palmetto will be almost evergreen.
Tolerance To Drought
Palmetto grass has shown itself to have fairly good drought tolerance in several tests. Sod growers have produced Palmetto in non-irrigated fields and it has endured droughts lasting over two months. Palmetto wilts under these conditions, but it recovers when it receives ample water. Consequently, it’s safe to say that Palmetto can endure drought at least as well, if not better, than other types of St. Augustine grass.
For example, sod growers have noted that Palmetto survived the drought of 1996 in Eastern Texas in fields with no irrigation, without much problem. This doesn’t suggest that you won’t need to water Palmetto during a drought, however, it has demonstrated some drought tolerance.
Tolerance Of Shade
Palmetto has excellent shade tolerance in comparison to other types of St. Augustine, which are known to tolerate shade. As a matter of fact, this is the main reason that Palmetto was first developed, in tests beneath shade trees and laboratory canopies. Other types of St. Augustine slowly declined during these tests, but the thickness of the Palmetto sod declined only slightly and it maintained its appearance with a steady color when exposed to different degrees of light. Palmetto grass is able to grow well in shade but it must first be established and properly maintained. Nevertheless, we wouldn’t recommend attempting to grow Palmetto in an area of consistently dense shade.
Establishing St. Augustine Palmetto Sod in Central Florida
Even though it is possible to plant Palmetto all year round in the warmer areas of South Florida, the ideal time to plant a warm-season sod, such as Palmetto, is in its time of active growth, so it will become established quickly. When possible, it is also advisable to steer clear of extremes in temperature, especially a frost. In North and Central Florida, avoid establishing your sod in the Winter. In South Florida the best time to establish Palmetto sod is Spring or Late Fall.
Palmetto is only established via vegetative propagation which may include sprigs, plugs, or sod. This means that parts of the plant with growing points are planted, as opposed to planting seeds. Palmetto sod has stolons that actively grow and cause Palmetto to grow laterally on the ground.
It is also important to properly irrigate Palmetto while it is establishing itself. Short irrigation times of ten minutes should be applied to the sod throughout the day for the initial ten days. For days 10 through 20, you should irrigate with 0.5” of water daily. After day 20, you can reduce irrigation to three times per week. After day 28, the sod should be fully established and you can irrigate as needed.
As needed watering should occur when the blades wilt, fold up, or turn blue-gray in color. You should irrigate with approximately 0.5” of water.
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