What is the best time(s) to divide and transplant native grasses: big and little bluestem, Indian grass, sideoates grama?
Does it matter that I am in central Texas?
I think its kinda late now for dividing even for zone 8, early spring when they start growing again is your next bet. Good luck, they have one heck of a root system but it should be doable. You may need a saw. As in any transplant, DON'T let them dry out till reestablishment. Be patient they may take a while to get going, maybe as long a two years.
I think if they are dormant now, you could divide them just fine.
I would divide in the late fall or early spring before they turn green.
You definitely will need a saw. I tried to dig some up and break them with a shovel and it was no going. I really didnt want to dull the saw blade on dirt and roots but I had no choice.
I divided a small (1' across?) clump of little bluestem early last spring, on advice from this forum I think. I did it early while dormant, took as much root as I could get, dug a fairly deep hole, and really stomped on it. Worked like a charm. Where you are, keeping it moist is probably important too.
Oh, I just used a spade (but it was a small bunch) and the transplant was full-sized first year.
I am considering adding little bluestem and indian grass to my yard. From what I am hearing, once it is in, it is there to stay? Is it also going to reseed and take over the beds?
I have a clump of little bluestem in my front yard. It's 3 years old, and I haven't noticed that it's seeded all over, nor has the clump spread. Same with Side Oats Grama. I have a clump of indian grass, too. I've heard it can be aggressive with spreading and seeding, but I haven't noticed it. I've heard the same about big bluestem, but I have that out back where it can spread out if it wants to. April
Little bluestem is a long-lived perennial, so once established it should be part of your planting for a long while.
I think that your local soil and climate conditions go a long way toward determining whether these grasses will re-seed themselves or not. Little bluestem grows well enough for me but it doesn't self-seed in my garden, which is perhaps too poorly-drained for this species. Same goes for sideoats.
But indian grass is a bit too happy with conditions in my garden. I moved the large plants to a location where they would have more room, but seedlings keep popping up. Indian grass has a reputation of taking over larger-scale prairie plantings in this area as well. It's a beautiful plant, but a bit agressive.