However, for seed that has not been previously … cation. Get to know this valuable group of plants; every American garden should have some. Switchgrass, ‘Cave-In-Rock’ A rhizomatous, upland warm season bunchgrass; a good biomass producer; a favorite for reclamation and wildlife. The only maintenance your switch grass will require is a trim to about 6 inches in late March or early April. Your county Michigan State University Extension office has soil test kits available for a small fee and can analyze samples for you. Switchgrass seed is the only warm season grass type that is smooth and therefore will run through conventional planting equipment. In recent years interest in biofuel research has generated substantial interest in developing new varieties of Switchgrass as well as new management strategies. June 10, 2019. 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 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! If soil moisture and temperatures allow it, early seeding is preferred. Grazing is generally not recommended the first year, but a vigorous stand can be grazed late in the year if grazing periods are short with at least 30 days of rest provided between grazings. NRCS, Michigan Oct. 2000 WHAT IS A NATIVE GRASS PLANTING? Mature stand of switchgrass in its third year of production at Michigan State University. 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. This allows the new growth to begin unencumbered by last year’s old growth. Ornamental grasses are an enormous group of plants whose popularity has altered our perception of perennial gardening. 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. Needless to say, switch grasses are very versatile plants. Switchgrass, as you know, grows very thick and dense. The soil temperature should be over 60 degrees when you plant. The best time to plant switchgrass is in the winter. Plant in early spring. Basketball-size clumps will make great specimens within a year. We’ll keep you post Use switchgrass massed or in groups at the back of perennial borders, in mixed plantings or in prairies and native gardens. Since alot of people plant their foodplots and other crops in the spring, they automatically assume that is the time to plant switchgrass as well. However, over the years I have gotten the look from more than one person when I tell them that I plant switchgrass for whitetails in February and early March when the ground is still partially frozen. Like many domesticated plants, switchgrass has multiple cultivars adapted to different geographic regions. You can also plant cool season grasses during August; however, spring plantings are more successful. Hi Bill, I am looking to increase my bedding cover on my property by planting a 5-6 acre patch of warm season grass specifically switchgrass. Switchgrass, unlike corn, is a low-resource perennial plant. 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. Four treatments (0, 1, 4, and 8 plants/m 2) of crabgrass were planted with one switchgrass plant. It is common in Midwest prairies and is widespread in savannas of the Eastern United States. That’s why it is important to control weeds prior to seedbed preparation. Switchgrass is attractive as a potential bioenergy crop because it can grow for years without having to be replanted. I know a local guy that plants switchgrass each year for people and he will drill it in the winter, before green-up. Others found solace with upright sedums like. IA CP25 20-20 Economy* *Economy Mixes Include Introduced Clovers. 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! David Lowry, assistant professor of plant biology at Michigan State University worked with a team to evaluate the traits of switchgrass hybrids they planted in 10 locations from Texas to South Dakota. It is important to plant into a warm, moist soil. Should I Fertilize When I Plant? 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. Ornamental grasses are an enormous group of plants whose popularity has altered our perception of perennial gardening. Russian sage (Perovskia) offers lavender flowers above silvery foliage that grows 3 to 4 feet tall. and garden phlox, as well as native prairie plants such as purple coneflower, rudbeckias, sunflowers, bee balm, and Liatris. 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. Planting switchgrass for deer habitat does make some sense, but I have never been a big fan of it. This native grass mixes well with late asters, sedums, Echinops ritro, red shrub roses, smoke bush (Cotinus sp.) Mark E. Griffin. Switchgrass can be established on a variety of soils including the dreaded sandy soil. Related products. When the mowed area grows back green a few weeks later, spray glyphosate (roundup) to kill the new vegetation. It is more and more difficult to find an American garden without an ornamental grass. That is the extent of my experience planting Switchgrass in the spring. It’s easier with a chain saw, but an axe or hacksaw will do the trick. I have often equated dividing ornamental grasses to dividing the trunk of a tree. The seed seller (Prairie Seed Farms) did that in advance. 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. Cool-season grasses may be a weed problem in some established switchgrass stands. 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. They are extremely diverse too. In early spring, say early to mid march in the upper Midwest you can Rick demonstrates how tall Switch grass gets. When your clump eventually does grow too wide for your garden, you’ll need to dig up the entire crown to divide it. This mismanagement weakened the stands and eventually led to their demise. It’s easier with a chain saw, but an axe or hacksaw will do the trick. 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). Clumps of switch grass expand so slowly that they may not require dividing for 10 years or longer. Its light blue leaves hold up great in strong winds. Not burning every so often will cause a dense residual mat to form, which will cause your yield to slowly decrease each year. Plants can be transplanted or divided with less stress and with less water. 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. You should start my mowing the areas you wish to seed in mid-August prior to the seeding year. You may need to adjust the planting time to your growing region. The powdery-blue foliage yields soft blue-gray flowers in fall. Photo: Dennis Pennington. are clumpers. I would call them. Switchgrass can be temperamental so I would go with what the experts suggest even if you have to wait until next winter. Ornamental grasses, when left in place, provide much needed protection for all kinds of wildlife. If you are using your switch grass in a perennial border, there are many late-blooming perennials that make fine companions. In other words, none of them are runners, which can quickly outgrow their allotted space and become a nuisance. Some gardeners rebelled and began using smaller evergreen shrubs. 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? When your clump eventually does grow too wide for your garden, you’ll need to dig up the entire crown to divide it. 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. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a native warm-season grass that is a leading biomass crop in the United States. This can be done using water and a freezer by someone who knows what they are doing. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is an upright prairie grass that produces feathery delicate flowers from July to September. Clumps of switch grass expand so slowly that they may not require dividing for 10 years or longer. Copyright © 1996-2020 Michigan Gardener. Hines Horticulture‘Shenandoah’Fall is a wonderful season to garden. This exceptional, strong grower will usually produce substantial plants faster than other varieties. In Michigan, my best stands have been created using the switchgrass variety of Cave in Rock (CIR). Panicum ‘Prairie Skies’ is a more upright grower like ‘Heavy Metal,’ only larger, to 5 or 6 feet tall. All rights reserved. The only maintenance your switch grass will require is a trim to about 6 inches in late March or early April. Michigan State University . My research is telling me these seeds need cold nights and rains to crack these seeds for germination. I have often equated dividing ornamental grasses to dividing the trunk of a tree. Native grass plantings of warm-season species provide … 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. In an established, well-managed switchgrass stand, an application of an herbicide to control broadleaf weeds once or twice every ten years should be sufficient. As a warm season grass, switchgrass thrives in the heat of summer but goes dormant in the cold winters. To control weeds during establishment, mow switchgrass to a height of 4 inches in May or 6 inches in June or July. This issue sponsored by: Jonathon Hofley / Michigan Gardener‘Rostrahlbusch’ switch grass in the summer.by George Papadelis. The soil is disturbed less, and as switchgrass plants mature and develop more tillers, they will shade weeds and become more competitive. They were replaced by cool-s… 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. Planting switchgrass for deer habitat does make some sense, but I have never been a big fan of it. It has metallic gray-blue leaves on a 3- to 4-foot tall plant. 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. If you live in a place where the soil is never far below 60 degrees, … The small grain should be killed with herbicide to remove competition with the switchgrass seedlings. The showy stonecrop sedums (. It produces yellowish flowers in late fall that blush to tan for a winter show. Click cover to read now! This one looks great in rows to form a short hedge or alone among perennials in any border. IA CP23 Standard $ 115.00 /acre. Switchgrass offers excellent winter cover, even in high snow and wind conditions for all wildlife. 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. Height can range from 3 feet to as tall as 7 feet. 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. 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. I also always preach that as a property owner you should have a clear and concise plan to follow for any and all … Jonathon Hofley / Michigan Gardener ‘Rostrahlbusch’ switch grass in the summer. Switchgrass is easily identified by a small nest of hair where the blades attach to the sheath. Learning how to plant switchgrass by either frost seeding or using a no till drill, will offer you 2 sure-fire ways … switchgrass Michigan NRCS technical specialists have determined . No-till establishment of switchgrass may include planting into small grain stubble after graze-out or haying. What are your thoughts and when do you typically plant your grasses? As a general rule, you should seed between May and mid-June. It should not be grazed closer than 5 to 7 inches during the growing season. Others found solace with upright sedums like Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’ Now, we have ornamental grasses. MN CP1 $ 50.00 /acre. The stem is round, hollow, and usually, has a reddish tint. All switch grasses are clumpers. A herbicide can be applied within a few days of planting switchgrass and should control any weeds, as well as the small grain crop. They may be as little as 1 inch tall or towering to 20 feet. And here are 3 of the best: #1 Ornamental Grasses Provide Protection For Winter Wildlife. 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. by George Papadelis. My favorite switch grass is ‘Heavy Metal.’ I first saw this plant from a tour bus at Longwood Gardens in 1992. ‘Shenandoah’ is a shorter variety, only growing to 3 feet tall. Locating these disease-fighting regions will help improve switchgrass’ viability. 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. ‘Dallas Blues’ bears very wide leaf blades of powdery blue. With the companions mentioned above, ornamental grasses can be used to ensure a stunning display that lasts well into winter. 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. This publication provides planting information on forage species that have proven track records and are therefore recommended for use in Michigan. This North American native has many of the attributes that make ornamental grasses popular. 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