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. No-till establishment of switchgrass may include planting into small grain stubble after graze-out or haying. Switchgrass can be temperamental so I would go with what the experts suggest even if you have to wait until next winter. Click cover to read now! Ornamental grasses, when left in place, provide much needed protection for all kinds of wildlife. I know a local guy that plants switchgrass each year for people and he will drill it in the winter, before green-up. Photo: Dennis Pennington. The small grain should be killed with herbicide to remove competition with the switchgrass seedlings. I think that process of freeze/thaw cycles is called “stratifying”. Some grow in sun, others in shade. This mismanagement weakened the stands and eventually led to their demise. Fall-blooming asters and boltonia are available in several colors and provide masses of late season flowers. It has metallic gray-blue leaves on a 3- to 4-foot tall plant. Before planting cool season grasses and legumes, the soil pH should be between 5.5 and 7.0. Switchgrass is used for pasture and makes a good quality hay when mowed prior to seedhead formation. As a general rule, you should seed between May and mid-June. 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. Locating these disease-fighting regions will help improve switchgrass’ viability. It should not be grazed closer than 5 to 7 inches during the growing season. When the mowed area grows back green a few weeks later, spray glyphosate (roundup) to kill the new vegetation. Use switchgrass massed or in groups at the back of perennial borders, in mixed plantings or in prairies and native gardens. 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. Switch grass is a versatile plant that provides year-round interest with minimal care. They will tolerate almost any kind of soil from wet to dry and from sand to clay. Michigan State University . All switch grasses are clumpers. My favorite switch grass is ‘Heavy Metal.’ I first saw this plant from a tour bus at Longwood Gardens in 1992. Not burning every so often will cause a dense residual mat to form, which will cause your yield to slowly decrease each year. The soil temperature should be over 60 degrees when you plant. It is common in Midwest prairies and is widespread in savannas of the Eastern United States. George Papadelis is the owner of Telly’s Greenhouse in Troy, MI. When your clump eventually does grow too wide for your garden, you’ll need to dig up the entire crown to divide it. Mark E. Griffin. 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. Also, imagine your garden at wintertime to see if your landscape lacks winter interest. 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. 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. They prefer full sun but will tolerate light shade. Get to know this valuable group of plants; every American garden should have some. This breed does not mind the cold and can survive harsh winters, as is the case with many things from the north. As a warm season grass, switchgrass thrives in the heat of summer but goes dormant in the cold winters. Cool-season grasses may be a weed problem in some established switchgrass stands. It is more and more difficult to find an American garden without an ornamental grass. The fall flowers emerge pinkish, reddish, or silvery and mature to a grayish white or brown. Switchgrass, as you know, grows very thick and dense. Learning how to plant switchgrass by either frost seeding or using a no till drill, will offer you 2 sure-fire ways … I don’t have much switchgrass left on this farm – maybe 10 acres. 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. are clumpers. This publication provides planting information on forage species that have proven track records and are therefore recommended for use in Michigan. Plants can be transplanted or divided with less stress and with less water. Hines Horticulture‘Shenandoah’Fall is a wonderful season to garden. Some gardeners rebelled and began using smaller evergreen shrubs. Buy now . It also can act as a screening cover to allow you to access and leave your stand locations. 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. It’s easier with a chain saw, but an axe or hacksaw will do the trick. Switchgrass produces large seeds on a spangled-type seed head. 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. They may be as little as 1 inch tall or towering to 20 feet. Basketball-size clumps will make great specimens within a year. The showy stonecrop sedums (. 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! Providing height, flow and dra… 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. 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! For the competition study, a randomized complete block design was installed June 2009 at two locations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This native grass mixes well with late asters, sedums, Echinops ritro, red shrub roses, smoke bush (Cotinus sp.) ‘Dallas Blues’ bears very wide leaf blades of powdery blue. For previously stratified seed, it is best seeded in mid-spring (in the Upper Midwest). In other words, none of them are runners, which can quickly outgrow their allotted space and become a nuisance. 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. Some gardeners rebelled and began using smaller evergreen shrubs. The purple flower sprays that emerge in late summer are followed by its bright yellow fall color. With the companions mentioned above, ornamental grasses can be used to ensure a stunning display that lasts well into winter. If warm-season grasses are planted too late and the weather is hot and dry, the seedlings may not establish quickly. And here are 3 of the best: #1 Ornamental Grasses Provide Protection For Winter Wildlife. The stem is round, hollow, and usually, has a reddish tint. Switchgrass should be seeded between May and mid-June. The powdery-blue foliage yields soft blue-gray flowers in fall. Switchgrass, ‘Cave-In-Rock’ A rhizomatous, upland warm season bunchgrass; a good biomass producer; a favorite for reclamation and wildlife. I have often equated dividing ornamental grasses to dividing the trunk of a tree. 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. The best time to plant switchgrass is in the winter. Switchgrass seed is the only warm season grass type that is smooth and therefore will run through conventional planting equipment. 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. 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. 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. Jonathon Hofley / Michigan Gardener ‘Rostrahlbusch’ switch grass in the summer. That’s why it is important to control weeds prior to seedbed preparation. Switchgrass can be established on a variety of soils including the dreaded sandy soil. The larger size of this switch grass makes it ideal as a visual barrier or background plant. In late summer, red flowers emerge that mimic the red leaf color. In Michigan, my best stands have been created using the switchgrass variety of Cave in Rock (CIR). Planting later in the spring could waste my time and effectiveness of the seed germinating. Native grass plantings of warm-season species provide … Northern upland switchgrass typically lives on ridgelines and in prairie areas in states such as South Dakota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Switchgrass, unlike corn, is a low-resource perennial plant. If soil moisture and temperatures allow it, early seeding is preferred. They were replaced by cool-s… Height can range from 3 feet to as tall as 7 feet. Panicum ‘Prairie Skies’ is a more upright grower like ‘Heavy Metal,’ only larger, to 5 or 6 feet tall. IA CP25 20-20 Economy* *Economy Mixes Include Introduced Clovers. The seed seller (Prairie Seed Farms) did that in advance. In order to germinate, it needs the soil to be 55 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. Besides providing winter interest, grasses have fall color, move beautifully in the wind, and most have flowers that last long into the winter. 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