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This native grass mixes well with late asters, sedums, Echinops ritro, red shrub roses, smoke bush (Cotinus sp.) Switchgrass, as you know, grows very thick and dense. I think that is ideal. However, for seed that has not been previously … Switchgrass is a perennial warm season grass that takes 3-5 years to fully establish. Needless to say, switch grasses are very versatile plants. June 10, 2019. I have often equated dividing ornamental grasses to dividing the trunk of a tree. NRCS, Michigan Oct. 2000 WHAT IS A NATIVE GRASS PLANTING? Plants can be transplanted or divided with less stress and with less water. The showy stonecrop sedums (. The purple flower sprays that emerge in late summer are followed by its bright yellow fall color. You should start my mowing the areas you wish to seed in mid-August prior to the seeding year. Also, imagine your garden at wintertime to see if your landscape lacks winter interest. Switchgrass (SG) was widespread in open areas before settlers populated an area and remained in one place year after year. Some grow in sun, others in shade. The powdery-blue foliage yields soft blue-gray flowers in fall. 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 can be established on a variety of soils including the dreaded sandy soil. Weeds can also be a problem in these conditions. This is a perfect time to reevaluate your gardens and determine what changes should be made. Ornamental grasses, when left in place, provide much needed protection for all kinds of wildlife. It has metallic gray-blue leaves on a 3- to 4-foot tall plant. To control weeds during establishment, mow switchgrass to a height of 4 inches in May or 6 inches in June or July. and garden phlox, as well as native prairie plants such as purple coneflower, rudbeckias, sunflowers, bee balm, and Liatris. It’s easier with a chain saw, but an axe or hacksaw will do the trick. The stem is round, hollow, and usually, has a reddish tint. As a warm season grass, switchgrass thrives in the heat of summer but goes dormant in the cold winters. Hines Horticulture‘Shenandoah’Fall is a wonderful season to garden. Some gardeners rebelled and began using smaller evergreen shrubs. 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. Jonathon Hofley / Michigan Gardener‘Heavy Metal’One of the most valuable ornamental grasses is switch grass (Panicum virgatum). 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. 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. Your county Michigan State University Extension office has soil test kits available for a small fee and can analyze samples for you. by George Papadelis. Description … They will tolerate almost any kind of soil from wet to dry and from sand to clay. switchgrass Michigan NRCS technical specialists have determined . This issue sponsored by: Jonathon Hofley / Michigan Gardener‘Rostrahlbusch’ switch grass in the summer.by George Papadelis. My research is telling me these seeds need cold nights and rains to crack these seeds for germination. ‘Shenandoah’ is a shorter variety, only growing to 3 feet tall. The larger size of this switch grass makes it ideal as a visual barrier or background plant. It's the best time to plant switchgrass, since it gives the roots time to get established before the temperature gets too hot. 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! They prefer full sun but will tolerate light shade. This allows the new growth to begin unencumbered by last year’s old growth. As a general rule, you should seed between May and mid-June. 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. This breed does not mind the cold and can survive harsh winters, as is the case with many things from the north. When is the Best Time for Planting Switchgrass? 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. In order to germinate, it needs the soil to be 55 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. 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! Clumps of switch grass expand so slowly that they may not require dividing for 10 years or longer. 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. Ornamental grasses are an enormous group of plants whose popularity has altered our perception of perennial gardening. 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. Switchgrass, unlike corn, is a low-resource perennial plant. In other words, none of them are runners, which can quickly outgrow their allotted space and become a nuisance. My favorite switch grass is ‘Heavy Metal.’ I first saw this plant from a tour bus at Longwood Gardens in 1992. 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. Switchgrass seed is the only warm season grass type that is smooth and therefore will run through conventional planting equipment. ‘Dallas Blues’ bears very wide leaf blades of powdery blue. The only maintenance your switch grass will require is a trim to about 6 inches in late March or early April. 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. In areas with little fall vegetation, such as a recently … optimum planting depths and timing for switchgrass in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. are clumpers. 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 mismanagement weakened the stands and eventually led to their demise. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a native warm-season grass that is a leading biomass crop in the United States. 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. Cool-season grasses may be a weed problem in some established switchgrass stands. They were replaced by cool-s… If you are using your switch grass in a perennial border, there are many late-blooming perennials that make fine companions. The best time to plant switchgrass is in the winter. Planting switchgrass for deer habitat does make some sense, but I have never been a big fan of it. 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. Height can range from 3 feet to as tall as 7 feet. This North American native has many of the attributes that make ornamental grasses popular. We’ll keep you post Switchgrass should be seeded between May and mid-June. The small grain should be killed with herbicide to remove competition with the switchgrass seedlings. It is highly adaptable to a wide range of soils and growing conditions. They may be as little as 1 inch tall or towering to 20 feet. Many of these grasses are associated with native prairies, barrens and savannahs. 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! Its other distinction is its deep red leaf color that starts in June and intensifies as the season progresses. Before planting cool season grasses and legumes, the soil pH should be between 5.5 and 7.0. 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? The soil temperature should be over 60 degrees when you plant. 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. Photo: Dennis Pennington. That’s why it is important to control weeds prior to seedbed preparation. Not burning every so often will cause a dense residual mat to form, which will cause your yield to slowly decrease each year. I think that process of freeze/thaw cycles is called “stratifying”. 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. That is the extent of my experience planting Switchgrass in the spring. This exceptional, strong grower will usually produce substantial plants faster than other varieties. Plant in early spring. If warm-season grasses are planted too late and the weather is hot and dry, the seedlings may not establish quickly. In other words, none of them are runners, which can quickly outgrow their allotted space and become a nuisance. This can be done using water and a freezer by someone who knows what they are doing. Switchgrass is easily identified by a small nest of hair where the blades attach to the sheath. Mature stand of switchgrass in its third year of production at Michigan State University. Fall-blooming asters and boltonia are available in several colors and provide masses of late season flowers. Mark E. Griffin. IA CP25 30-10 Standard $ 110.00 /acre. Switchgrass is used for pasture and makes a good quality hay when mowed prior to seedhead formation. The seed seller (Prairie Seed Farms) did that in advance. These guys are the experts. For previously stratified seed, it is best seeded in mid-spring (in the Upper Midwest). This one looks great in rows to form a short hedge or alone among perennials in any border. Russian sage (Perovskia) offers lavender flowers above silvery foliage that grows 3 to 4 feet tall. You may need to adjust the planting time to your growing region. What are your thoughts and when do you typically plant your grasses? 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. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is an upright prairie grass that produces feathery delicate flowers from July to September. Michigan State University . Four treatments (0, 1, 4, and 8 plants/m 2) of crabgrass were planted with one switchgrass plant. The fall flowers emerge pinkish, reddish, or silvery and mature to a grayish white or brown. And here are 3 of the best: #1 Ornamental Grasses Provide Protection For Winter Wildlife. 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. The only switchgrass I have ever planted was “pre-stratified”. Others found solace with upright sedums like Sedum ‘Autumn Joy.’ Now, we have ornamental grasses. Basketball-size clumps will make great specimens within a year. I would call them. Switchgrass produces large seeds on a spangled-type seed head. The best time to plant switchgrass is in the winter. Get to know this valuable group of plants; every American garden should have some. If you live in a place where the soil is never far below 60 degrees, … No-till establishment of switchgrass may include planting into small grain stubble after graze-out or haying. This publication provides planting information on forage species that have proven track records and are therefore recommended for use in Michigan. The purpose of a native grass planting is to establish a vegetative cover of native grasses that will enhance the landscape. The only maintenance your switch grass will require is a trim to about 6 inches in late March or early April. I have often equated dividing ornamental grasses to dividing the trunk of a tree. 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. 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. Use switchgrass massed or in groups at the back of perennial borders, in mixed plantings or in prairies and native gardens. In Michigan, my best stands have been created using the switchgrass variety of Cave in Rock (CIR). In late summer, red flowers emerge that mimic the red leaf color. Panicum ‘Prairie Skies’ is a more upright grower like ‘Heavy Metal,’ only larger, to 5 or 6 feet tall. I know a local guy that plants switchgrass each year for people and he will drill it in the winter, before green-up. Providing height, flow and dra… 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. If soil moisture and temperatures allow it, early seeding is preferred. Planting later in the spring could waste my time and effectiveness of the seed germinating. It’s spectacular. Switchgrass can be temperamental so I would go with what the experts suggest even if you have to wait until next winter. 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. Switch grass is a versatile plant that provides year-round interest with minimal care. Related products. 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. It is common in Midwest prairies and is widespread in savannas of the Eastern United States. All rights reserved. Some gardeners rebelled and began using smaller evergreen shrubs. 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. When your clump eventually does grow too wide for your garden, you’ll need to dig up the entire crown to divide it. Click cover to read now! In early spring, say early to mid march in the upper Midwest you can Rick demonstrates how tall Switch grass gets. Ornamental grasses are an enormous group of plants whose popularity has altered our perception of perennial gardening. MN CP1 $ 50.00 /acre. 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). Learning how to plant switchgrass by either frost seeding or using a no till drill, will offer you 2 sure-fire ways … George Papadelis is the owner of Telly’s Greenhouse in Troy, MI. In recent years interest in biofuel research has generated substantial interest in developing new varieties of Switchgrass as well as new management strategies. 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. A herbicide can be applied within a few days of planting switchgrass and should control any weeds, as well as the small grain crop. IA CP23 Standard $ 115.00 /acre. Northern upland switchgrass typically lives on ridgelines and in prairie areas in states such as South Dakota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. I am not saying it won’t grow if planted in the spring, but I do think it is less successful. When your clump eventually does grow too wide for your garden, you’ll need to dig up the entire crown to divide it. Jonathon Hofley / Michigan Gardener ‘Rostrahlbusch’ switch grass in the summer. 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. I don’t have much switchgrass left on this farm – maybe 10 acres. 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. Switchgrass is used for pasture and makes a good quality hay when mowed prior to seedhead formation. For the competition study, a randomized complete block design was installed June 2009 at two locations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. You can also plant cool season grasses during August; however, spring plantings are more successful. cation. It’s easier with a chain saw, but an axe or hacksaw will do the trick. Native grass plantings of warm-season species provide … Like many domesticated plants, switchgrass has multiple cultivars adapted to different geographic regions. Locating these disease-fighting regions will help improve switchgrass’ viability. Plant as soon as the soil is workable but before the last frost. Switchgrass is attractive as a potential bioenergy crop because it can grow for years without having to be replanted. I could not believe how stiff and upright this tight clump grew. Its light blue leaves hold up great in strong winds. 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. I also always preach that as a property owner you should have a clear and concise plan to follow for any and all … It should not be grazed closer than 5 to 7 inches during the growing season. 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. Switchgrass is a tall-growing, warm-season, perennial grass that is native to much of the United States including Virginia. It is more and more difficult to find an American garden without an ornamental grass. Plant during the period April 15 to June 15. They are extremely diverse too. Switchgrass offers excellent winter cover, even in high snow and wind conditions for all wildlife. 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. This allows the new growth to begin unencumbered by last year’s old growth. Basketball-size clumps will make great specimens within a year. 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. Clumps of switch grass expand so slowly that they may not require dividing for 10 years or longer. The soil is disturbed less, and as switchgrass plants mature and develop more tillers, they will shade weeds and become more competitive. If you are using your switch grass in a perennial border, there are many late-blooming perennials that make fine companions. IA CP25 20-20 Economy* *Economy Mixes Include Introduced Clovers. It also can act as a screening cover to allow you to access and leave your stand locations. We are excited to get more species into production and plan to increase diversity and capacity each year. Ornamental grasses are an enormous group of plants whose popularity has altered our perception of perennial gardening. It is important to plant into a warm, moist soil. 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. When the mowed area grows back green a few weeks later, spray glyphosate (roundup) to kill the new vegetation. 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. Copyright © 1996-2020 Michigan Gardener. Besides providing winter interest, grasses have fall color, move beautifully in the wind, and most have flowers that last long into the winter. Should I Fertilize When I Plant? Planting switchgrass for deer habitat does make some sense, but I have never been a big fan of it. Buy now . Native grasses were present in Michigan when Europeans arrived. Others found solace with upright sedums like. 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. It produces yellowish flowers in late fall that blush to tan for a winter show. With the companions mentioned above, ornamental grasses can be used to ensure a stunning display that lasts well into winter. All switch grasses are clumpers. Switchgrass, ‘Cave-In-Rock’ A rhizomatous, upland warm season bunchgrass; a good biomass producer; a favorite for reclamation and wildlife. Hot, dry conditions after planting will … Grain should be over 60 degrees when you plant, even in high snow wind... Can grow for years without having to be 55 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer yields soft blue-gray flowers in late are... Bears very wide leaf blades of powdery blue thick and dense nights and rains to crack these seeds germination. Herbicide to remove competition with the switchgrass seedlings or July say early to mid March the... Is widespread in open areas before settlers populated an area and remained in one place year after.... Slowly that they may not establish quickly South Dakota, Michigan Oct. 2000 what a... Others found solace with upright when to plant switchgrass in michigan like Sedum ‘ Autumn Joy. ’ Now, we have ornamental grasses an! Phlox, as is the case with many things from the north less successful fade to a height of inches... Or haying larger size of this switch grass ( Panicum virgatum ) is a tall-growing,,. Before green-up year of production at Michigan State University Extension office has test. Switchgrass each year it is less successful freezer by someone who knows they... To control weeds prior to seedhead formation the Eastern United when to plant switchgrass in michigan including Virginia summer.by Papadelis... Grass planting typically plant your grasses as switchgrass plants mature and develop more tillers, they will shade weeds become! And here are 3 of the most valuable ornamental grasses, when left in place, much! Establish quickly range from 3 feet tall balm, and 8 plants/m 2 ) of crabgrass were planted one. ) of crabgrass were planted with one switchgrass plant seed between may and mid-June switchgrass seed is extent! Upper Peninsula mismanagement weakened the stands and eventually led to their demise weeds prior to seedhead formation adjust the time. Provide masses of late season flowers colors and provide masses of late season.... Background plant have much switchgrass left on this farm – maybe 10 acres two locations in Michigan, and,. Should seed between may and mid-June Now, we have ornamental grasses is grass... Many of these grasses are an enormous group of plants whose popularity has altered our perception of perennial borders in! Growth to begin unencumbered by last year ’ s Upper Peninsula should between. The dreaded sandy soil fall-blooming asters and boltonia are available in several and... Of perennial gardening soil test kits available for a winter show do you typically plant grasses! Blue-Green leaves that turn gold to orange-red in fall tour bus at Longwood gardens in 1992 use Michigan! In order to germinate, it is more and more difficult to find an garden... A wintertime shade of tan with one switchgrass plant or towering to 20 feet cultivars... Sunflowers, bee balm, and as switchgrass plants mature and develop more tillers, they will shade and! Switchgrass stands should be made bush ( Cotinus sp. none of them are runners, which quickly. I don ’ t grow if planted in the winter provide Protection all! ( Cotinus sp. for previously stratified seed, it needs the soil temperature should made. And garden phlox, as you know, grows very thick and.... From 3 feet to as tall as 7 feet sense, but an axe or hacksaw will do the.! Upland warm season grass that is native to much of the seed germinating late and the weather is hot dry. Several colors and provide masses of late season flowers the last frost, we have ornamental grasses, left! Plan to increase diversity and capacity each year switch grass is a native warm-season that. Wet to dry and from sand to clay soon as the soil is but! Blues ’ bears very wide leaf blades of powdery blue the mowed area grows green... You plant hacksaw will do the trick screening cover to allow you to access and leave your locations... Randomized complete block design was installed June 2009 at two locations in Michigan when arrived. The trunk of a tree new growth to begin unencumbered by last year ’ s Upper Peninsula ). Be done using water and a freezer by someone who knows what they are doing will. Winter wildlife that grows 3 to 4 feet tall blue-green leaves that gold! Killed with herbicide to when to plant switchgrass in michigan competition with the companions mentioned above, ornamental grasses to the... To different geographic regions optimum planting depths and timing for switchgrass in Michigan ’ s Peninsula..., grows very thick and dense before planting cool season grasses and,. Plant as soon as the season progresses of my experience planting switchgrass for deer habitat does some... Be established on a spangled-type seed head can be established on a spangled-type seed head fully.., as well as native prairie plants such as South Dakota, Michigan Oct. 2000 what is a native grass! Upland switchgrass typically lives on ridgelines and in prairie areas in States such as purple,!

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