Leymus triticoides Lagunita™
BOTANICAL NAME: Leymus triticoides Lagunita™
COMMON NAMES: Lagunita Wild Rye
CATEGORY/FAMILY: Grass / Poaceae
NATIVE: Northern California
WINTER HARDINESS: USDA 7-9
HABIT: Colony forming, spreads from rhizomes
FOLIAGE COLOR & TEXTURE: Medium glossy-green
SEASONAL FOLIAGE APPEARANCE: Evergreen
FLOWERING CHARACTERISTICS: Insignificant flowers seldom appear
FOLIAGE HEIGHT/FLOWER HEIGHT: Leaves 6-12″, seldom-appearing flower spikes are 10-12″ above leaves
SUN EXPOSURE: Full sun to part shade
SOIL ADAPTABILITY: Tolerates sand to clay
WATER NEEDS: Drought tolerant, prefers occasional water
DESERT ADAPTABILITY: Tolerates high desert with ample water
COASTAL EXPOSURE: 1st to 3rd coastal exposure
NATURALIZING POTENTIAL: Spreads controllably from rhizomes
POLLINATOR & WILDLIFE VALUE: Good for habitat
CULTURAL VALUE: Found in nature where people like to be
PESTS & REPORTED PROBLEMS: Can have rust in coastal areas in rainy, wet spring seasons
SPACING: 12-18″ on center
MAINTENANCE TIPS: Cut anytime to renew foliage. Cut in late spring to enhance summer drought tolerance
Leymus triticoides 'Lagunita' has the potential to become the gold standard of native California meadow grasses.
If this isn’t the holy grail of native meadow grasses for the west coast, I will hang up my hat! This clone of our native creeping wild rye is one of the best forms of this grass we’ve ever come across. I’ve studied this grass species in nature from San Diego to Mount Shasta and by far, my variety here is the one with the most compact form and the most uniform green color. Many inland forms of Leymus are 3′ tall, silvery blue, and floppy. Delta forms can be 4′ tall and floppy. Lagunita, however, is just the right height at 10-16″, just the right green and extremely adaptable. It can be mowed as a meadow lawn, or left unmown as one of the hardiest of sod-forming grasses. I discovered this beautiful grass on a client’s ranch north of Santa Cruz. For more than 20 years, I’ve used it as a meadow lawn and orchard understory. Finally I’ve made it available for homeowners and landscapers!
Tolerant of 1st exposure seacoast, thriving in sand or clay, Lagunita is now the base ground cover grass for most of our large scale meadow installations. It can be an aggressive grower if pushed with water and fertilizer, but it’s better behaved in dryer settings and when it’s planted in combination with flowering grasses and perennials. A unique aspect of the colony-forming grass is that it rarely flowers and doesn’t set viable seed. This characteristic keeps it uniform and tidy with little care, except for occasional cutbacks.
Leymus triticoides “Lagunita’ is clearly a drought-tolerant native grass. Very little summer water is required to keep the plant evergreen. Typically, one or two waterings per month will keep the plantings green and importantly, non-flammable. It’s also tolerant of brief periods underwater in seasonal flooding and riparian conditions. This quality of tolerating both wet and dry conditions make it valuable in bioswales and bioremediation projects. The plant’s soil tolerance is truly amazing. It grows in dune sand or heavy clay.
Leymus triticoides Lagunita is currently being tested as a 'mowed lawn'. It has been tested at a 4" maintained height and on going studies will determine its suitability for mowing height at 1"-2". Leymus triticoides "Lagunita' is easy to mow with a conventional mower or string trimmer making it far easier than its densely clumping or tall native grass cousins.
Depending on soil type, fertility, moisture levels and time of year, planting from plugs 12" on-center can be a solid turf in 60-120 days. Plugs spaced more closely can fill in even faster.
Flowering perennials, showy flowers accent grasses and flowering bulbs are easily added to plantings of Leymus triticoides "Lagunita'. Its low rich green foliage makes an excellent ground cover grass for both natural lawns and meadows.
Currently it has only been tested in gardens down to 18º but all indications are that it is safely cold hardy to USDA zone 7. Further testing will determine its cold hardiness and suitability at high elevation.
Leymus triticoides "Lagunita' does not generally seed and is not grown by seed suppliers and therefore not planted from seed. It is easy from plugs or pots or bare root divisions. Small pots, plugs or divisions are preferred over gallon cans for quick establishment and uniform plantings.
Disease and pest resistance:
Remarkably disease and pest free, Leymus triticoides "Lagunita' can get foliar rust under certain moist coastal conditions but it is only a temporary cosmetic effect as an orangish blush. Rust if occurs usually disappear without treatment of any kind with the onset of sunny weather; Leymus triticoides "Lagunita' is tolerant of inundation and brief period under water in seasonal flooding and riparian conditions. No root rot has ever been recorded in established plantings. This quality or tolerating both wet and dry conditions make it valuable in bioswales and bioremediation.