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