Switchgrass, ‘Cave-In-Rock’ A rhizomatous, upland warm season bunchgrass; a good biomass producer; a favorite for reclamation and wildlife. Needless to say, switch grasses are very versatile plants. If the seedbed is prepared too early, the cool-season grasses and weeds will be strong and competitive by the time the warm-season grasses emerge. This North American native has many of the attributes that make ornamental grasses popular. You can also plant cool season grasses during August; however, spring plantings are more successful. The showy stonecrop sedums (Sedum spectabile) include several varieties like ‘Autumn Fire,’ ‘Neon,’ and ‘Pink Chablis.’ These offer some interesting flowers as well as foliage for the autumn garden. To control weeds during establishment, mow switchgrass to a height of 4 inches in May or 6 inches in June or July. If you are using your switch grass in a perennial border, there are many late-blooming perennials that make fine companions. Russian sage (Perovskia) offers lavender flowers above silvery foliage that grows 3 to 4 feet tall. Your county Michigan State University Extension office has soil test kits available for a small fee and can analyze samples for you. We’ll keep you post This can be done using water and a freezer by someone who knows what they are doing. In other words, none of them are runners, which can quickly outgrow their allotted space and become a nuisance. As a warm season grass, switchgrass thrives in the heat of summer but goes dormant in the cold winters. Others found solace with upright sedums like Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’ Now, we have ornamental grasses. This mismanagement weakened the stands and eventually led to their demise. When your clump eventually does grow too wide for your garden, you’ll need to dig up the entire crown to divide it. Its light blue leaves hold up great in strong winds. Plant in early spring. The showy stonecrop sedums (. However, for seed that has not been previously … With the companions mentioned above, ornamental grasses can be used to ensure a stunning display that lasts well into winter. Switchgrass is one of the easiest forms of wildlife cover to plant and if planted correctly, switchgrass can be fully established after only 2 Summers of growth! optimum planting depths and timing for switchgrass in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Researchers at Michigan State University will use a $1.1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant to fight disease in switchgrass by identifying regions of the genome that cause disease resistance. We also have local collections of many other grasses, sedges, and wildflowers from southern Michigan and in 2018 and 2019 we planted several new seed production plots of sedges and wildflowers, in addition to increasing some of our key grasses. Plant during the period April 15 to June 15. The soil is disturbed less, and as switchgrass plants mature and develop more tillers, they will shade weeds and become more competitive. Planting switchgrass for deer habitat does make some sense, but I have never been a big fan of it. Ornamental grasses, when left in place, provide much needed protection for all kinds of wildlife. Others found solace with upright sedums like. This one looks great in rows to form a short hedge or alone among perennials in any border. It’s spectacular. Switchgrass produces large seeds on a spangled-type seed head. Basketball-size clumps will make great specimens within a year. When is the Best Time for Planting Switchgrass? Many of these grasses are associated with native prairies, barrens and savannahs. Before you grab those hedge shears, even though cutting back ornamental grasses may not harm the plant, there are still a whole host of great reasons to leave them standing until spring. They will tolerate almost any kind of soil from wet to dry and from sand to clay. Switchgrass is a tall-growing, warm-season, perennial grass that is native to much of the United States including Virginia. The best time to plant switchgrass is in the winter. That summer I don’t believe we had much but the following year we had a very nice stand in all but a few of the fields. Buy now . If you are using your switch grass in a perennial border, there are many late-blooming perennials that make fine companions. In recent years interest in biofuel research has generated substantial interest in developing new varieties of Switchgrass as well as new management strategies. In order to germinate, it needs the soil to be 55 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. They may be as little as 1 inch tall or towering to 20 feet. Jared Day 19: Final Hunt Before The Break, Drake’s Blog | Public Land Push, Shotgun Season Day 2, Mike’s Blog | Laying Eyes On An Urban Shooter, Josh’s Blog | Back To Work, Cruising Bucks. This not only saves on replanting costs—switchgrass stands are expected to last for 20 years—but also allows its root system to stay in the ground, reducing risk of erosion and run-off while channeling fertilizing nitrogen back into the soil. Cave-n-Rock switchgrass is a perennial, warm season native grass that grows an average of 3-5 feet tall, but in some regions, can reach up to 6 feet tall at maturity. Switchgrass should be seeded between May and mid-June. Should I Fertilize When I Plant? This native grass mixes well with late asters, sedums, Echinops ritro, red shrub roses, smoke bush (Cotinus sp.) Switch grass is a versatile plant that provides year-round interest with minimal care. It is highly adaptable to a wide range of soils and growing conditions. Michigan State University . Switchgrass is attractive as a potential bioenergy crop because it can grow for years without having to be replanted. Switchgrass is easily identified by a small nest of hair where the blades attach to the sheath. Hines Horticulture‘Shenandoah’Fall is a wonderful season to garden. When the mowed area grows back green a few weeks later, spray glyphosate (roundup) to kill the new vegetation. IA CP23 Standard $ 115.00 /acre. I have not seen that the deer use it much in my hunting area, but I assume in areas with limited cover, they would use it more. We are excited to get more species into production and plan to increase diversity and capacity each year. Switchgrass is one of the easiest forms of wildlife cover to plant and if planted correctly, switchgrass can be fully established after only 2 Summers of growth! One year, I planted 250 acres of pre-stratified seed in the spring with a no-till drill on a farm in which I was part owner. Height can range from 3 feet to as tall as 7 feet. Switchgrass (SG) was widespread in open areas before settlers populated an area and remained in one place year after year. In late summer, red flowers emerge that mimic the red leaf color. It’s easier with a chain saw, but an axe or hacksaw will do the trick. If warm-season grasses are planted too late and the weather is hot and dry, the seedlings may not establish quickly. That is the extent of my experience planting Switchgrass in the spring. I am not saying it won’t grow if planted in the spring, but I do think it is less successful. IA CP25 20-20 Economy* *Economy Mixes Include Introduced Clovers. The only maintenance your switch grass will require is a trim to about 6 inches in late March or early April. I think that is ideal. Cool-season grasses may be a weed problem in some established switchgrass stands. Before ornamental grasses, perennial purists struggled to find plants that provided winter interest and yet died down to the ground like the rest of the garden. And here are 3 of the best: #1 Ornamental Grasses Provide Protection For Winter Wildlife. The small grain should be killed with herbicide to remove competition with the switchgrass seedlings. The seed seller (Prairie Seed Farms) did that in advance. Plant as soon as the soil is workable but before the last frost. ‘Dallas Blues’ bears very wide leaf blades of powdery blue. It's the best time to plant switchgrass, since it gives the roots time to get established before the temperature gets too hot. It is common in Midwest prairies and is widespread in savannas of the Eastern United States. I have often equated dividing ornamental grasses to dividing the trunk of a tree. If soil moisture and temperatures allow it, early seeding is preferred. The only maintenance your switch grass will require is a trim to about 6 inches in late March or early April. are clumpers. Hot, dry conditions after planting will … Switchgrass is used for pasture and makes a good quality hay when mowed prior to seedhead formation. Even if you don't burn before planting switchgrass, you're going to want to burn every 3-4 years once you get a good stand established. Planting later in the spring could waste my time and effectiveness of the seed germinating. Northern upland switchgrass typically lives on ridgelines and in prairie areas in states such as South Dakota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. NRCS, Michigan Oct. 2000 WHAT IS A NATIVE GRASS PLANTING? ‘Shenandoah’ is a shorter variety, only growing to 3 feet tall. Their livestock were free roaming and would graze the new switchgrass growth in the spring before the new plants were tall enough to withstand defoliation. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a native warm-season grass that is a leading biomass crop in the United States. The best time to plant switchgrass is in the winter. In areas with little fall vegetation, such as a recently … It has metallic gray-blue leaves on a 3- to 4-foot tall plant. In other words, none of them are runners, which can quickly outgrow their allotted space and become a nuisance. MN CP1 $ 50.00 /acre. Ornamental grasses are an enormous group of plants whose popularity has altered our perception of perennial gardening. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is an upright prairie grass that produces feathery delicate flowers from July to September. These guys are the experts. Switchgrass, unlike corn, is a low-resource perennial plant. The purpose of a native grass planting is to establish a vegetative cover of native grasses that will enhance the landscape. Also, imagine your garden at wintertime to see if your landscape lacks winter interest. Native grass plantings of warm-season species provide … Jonathon Hofley / Michigan Gardener‘Dallas Blues’The largest switch grass you will find is ‘Cloud Nine.’ It can grow from 5 to 7 feet tall and has a more vase-shaped habit. Basketball-size clumps will make great specimens within a year. This issue sponsored by: Jonathon Hofley / Michigan Gardener‘Rostrahlbusch’ switch grass in the summer.by George Papadelis. Botanical name: Panicum virgatum (PA-ni-kum vir-GAH-tum), Flower color: Soft purple, yellowish, gray-blue, pinkish red, Leaf color: Various shades of blue-green or gray-green, Light: Full sun to light shade; flowering and fall color are best in full sun, Soil: Tolerant of most types; from dry to wet, sandy to clay, Uses: Perennial bed, mixed border, hedge, specimen plant, Companion plants: Tall sedums, Russian sage, boltonia,  asters, mums, Remarks: Great year-round interest; fantastic fall color, from yellows to orange-reds, changing to tan in winter; easy to grow. Switchgrass offers excellent winter cover, even in high snow and wind conditions for all wildlife. Its other distinction is its deep red leaf color that starts in June and intensifies as the season progresses. I would call them. Planting switchgrass for deer habitat does make some sense, but I have never been a big fan of it. Switchgrass, as you know, grows very thick and dense. I could not believe how stiff and upright this tight clump grew. This publication provides planting information on forage species that have proven track records and are therefore recommended for use in Michigan. Functional type, life cycle, adaptation to common environmental conditions, recommended seeding rates and depths, suitability as hay, haylage, pasture, or cover crop, and potential animal health problems are included. They are extremely diverse too. You may need to adjust the planting time to your growing region. Copyright © 1996-2020 Michigan Gardener. This breed does not mind the cold and can survive harsh winters, as is the case with many things from the north. Ornamental grasses are an enormous group of plants whose popularity has altered our perception of perennial gardening. Mature stand of switchgrass in its third year of production at Michigan State University. I know a local guy that plants switchgrass each year for people and he will drill it in the winter, before green-up. I think that process of freeze/thaw cycles is called “stratifying”. Providing height, flow and dra… What are your thoughts and when do you typically plant your grasses? A herbicide can be applied within a few days of planting switchgrass and should control any weeds, as well as the small grain crop. I have never been a big switchgrass fan for a couple reasons (it is hard to establish, it is temporary and the deer on my farm don’t seem to use it much). Before ornamental grasses, perennial purists struggled to find plants that provided winter interest and yet died down to the ground like the rest of the garden. All rights reserved. This allows the new growth to begin unencumbered by last year’s old growth. Jonathon Hofley / Michigan Gardener‘Heavy Metal’One of the most valuable ornamental grasses is switch grass (Panicum virgatum). Learning how to plant switchgrass by either frost seeding or using a no till drill, will offer you 2 sure-fire ways … and garden phlox, as well as native prairie plants such as purple coneflower, rudbeckias, sunflowers, bee balm, and Liatris. This exceptional, strong grower will usually produce substantial plants faster than other varieties. They prefer full sun but will tolerate light shade. It is more and more difficult to find an American garden without an ornamental grass. Do you recommend frost seeding only for this product or could I see similar success by planting in the spring on a freshly worked seed bed? It should not be grazed closer than 5 to 7 inches during the growing season. I don’t have much switchgrass left on this farm – maybe 10 acres. Photo: Dennis Pennington. Besides providing winter interest, grasses have fall color, move beautifully in the wind, and most have flowers that last long into the winter. Clumps of switch grass expand so slowly that they may not require dividing for 10 years or longer. I have not seen that the deer use it much in my hunting area, but I assume in areas with limited cover, they would use it more. Some grow in sun, others in shade. Switchgrass seed is the only warm season grass type that is smooth and therefore will run through conventional planting equipment. They were replaced by cool-s… Like many domesticated plants, switchgrass has multiple cultivars adapted to different geographic regions. June 10, 2019. The soil temperature should be over 60 degrees when you plant. There are several switchgrass varieties to choose from and its high tolerance for different planting sites makes ornamental switchgrass a great choice for any landscape. By planting switchgrass at a rate of 10#s, you can create a nearly impassable structure of tangled grasses, by both you and the local deer herd! It’s easier with a chain saw, but an axe or hacksaw will do the trick. When your clump eventually does grow too wide for your garden, you’ll need to dig up the entire crown to divide it. For previously stratified seed, it is best seeded in mid-spring (in the Upper Midwest). When planting switchgrass in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, it should be done in the spring, within the first two weeks of June, at any depth ranging from 0.6 cm to 1.9 cm. The powdery-blue foliage yields soft blue-gray flowers in fall. Mark E. Griffin. Weeds can also be a problem in these conditions. The fall flowers emerge pinkish, reddish, or silvery and mature to a grayish white or brown. Panicum virgatum L. Southlow Michigan Germplasm S witchgrass The USDA-NRCS Rose Lake Plant Materials Center (PMC), the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources released a source-identified ecotype of switchgrass in 2001 for the Great Lakes region. Description … It produces yellowish flowers in late fall that blush to tan for a winter show. You should start my mowing the areas you wish to seed in mid-August prior to the seeding year. In early spring, say early to mid march in the upper Midwest you can Rick demonstrates how tall Switch grass gets. In Michigan, my best stands have been created using the switchgrass variety of Cave in Rock (CIR). Click cover to read now! That’s why it is important to control weeds prior to seedbed preparation. Switchgrass is a perennial warm season grass that takes 3-5 years to fully establish. Locating these disease-fighting regions will help improve switchgrass’ viability. switchgrass Michigan NRCS technical specialists have determined . Use switchgrass massed or in groups at the back of perennial borders, in mixed plantings or in prairies and native gardens. This allows the new growth to begin unencumbered by last year’s old growth. George Papadelis is the owner of Telly’s Greenhouse in Troy, MI. Switchgrass is used for pasture and makes a good quality hay when mowed prior to seedhead formation. These unusual leaves grow on a 6-foot tall plant that develops 2-foot long, football-shaped flower heads of purple-blue that turn to a rich orange-tan by fall. The huge flowers are the most wind responsive of any of the switch grasses; the slightest breeze will send your garden into a long mesmerizing dance. All switch grasses are clumpers. The only switchgrass I have ever planted was “pre-stratified”. Fall-blooming asters and boltonia are available in several colors and provide masses of late season flowers. IA CP25 30-10 Standard $ 110.00 /acre. All switch grasses have gray-green to blue-green leaves that turn gold to orange-red in fall and then fade to a wintertime shade of tan. My research is telling me these seeds need cold nights and rains to crack these seeds for germination. This offers an outstanding opportunity for you to plant a thick stand of grass to be used on the downwind and approach side, of your stand locations. Is best seeded in mid-spring ( in the spring could waste my time and effectiveness of best... That takes 3-5 years to fully establish Perovskia ) offers lavender flowers above silvery foliage that grows to. Spangled-Type seed head shade weeds and become a nuisance soil to be replanted it, early seeding is.. 4 inches in late summer, red flowers emerge that mimic the red color... 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