Floratam grass is a cultivar of the St. Augustine grass family. Horticulturalists developed it to be more hardy and resistant than other types of St. Augustine. Because of its attributes, Floratam is used mostly in the Southern states and is widely used in residential and commercial areas that require a vigorous and healthy green grass.
The Florida and Texas Agricultural Experiment Stations released this variety of St. Augustine grass in 1972 after researchers sought a grass that was more disease and bug resistant. The cultivar takes its name from both research stations where horticulturalists developed it: Florida and Texas A&M. It has since gained wide recognition and use in Southern coastal regions.
Floratam is a vigorous variety of St. Augustine and grows quickly in the right conditions. It is more coarse than other St. Augustine varieties. Its stolons are large and purplish-red. The stigma is also purple and is sterile, and therefore it does not produce seeds. It propagates via grass plugs or turf squares. Its internodes are about 3 inches long and are the stems that enclose the leaf sheath between the nodes. The blades on Floratam are wider and longer than other St. Augustine varieties.
Disease and Bugs
Floratam's initial benefits were its resistance to the St. Augustine Disease virus and its resistance against chinch bugs. As its use and propagation spread, however, nature took over and its resistance to chinch bugs has naturally weakened. As a result of this, chinch bugs are now a big problem for Floratam, especially in Florida. The damage -- slower growth and a yellow color -- mostly occurs in sunny areas. Methods to control the pest include use of slow-release nitrogen fertilizers, careful watering practices to reduce the amount of thatch, biological controls such as big-eyed bugs and chemical pesticides.
Floratam is more drought resistant than other varieties and is prone to developing thick thatch if overwatered. This variety also requires at least six hours of sunlight per day and is not as shade tolerant as other St. Augustine cultivars. Floratam also has less tolerance to cold weather, thereby limiting its use to coastal regions. It will suffer freeze damage if it experiences extended lengths of subfreezing temperatures. When maintaining your Floratam, keep the height to 1 1/2 inches. If you are in drought conditions and watering is at a minimum, mow at a height of 2 inches.
- Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture; St. Augustine Grass; Richard L. Duble
- Oregon State University Forestry Sciences Laboratory: Grass Growth and Regrowth for Improved Management
- American Lawns: Floratam St. Augustine Lawn Grass
- University of Florida; Southern Chinch Bug Management on St. Augustinegrass; Eileen A. Buss