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This mismanagement weakened the stands and eventually led to their demise. 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. I have often equated dividing ornamental grasses to dividing the trunk of a tree. 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. Cool-season grasses may be a weed problem in some established switchgrass stands. Besides providing winter interest, grasses have fall color, move beautifully in the wind, and most have flowers that last long into the winter. If warm-season grasses are planted too late and the weather is hot and dry, the seedlings may not establish quickly. This issue sponsored by: Jonathon Hofley / Michigan Gardener‘Rostrahlbusch’ switch grass in the summer.by George Papadelis. Mark E. Griffin. 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. Ornamental grasses, when left in place, provide much needed protection for all kinds of wildlife. Ornamental grasses are an enormous group of plants whose popularity has altered our perception of perennial gardening. They may be as little as 1 inch tall or towering to 20 feet. Some gardeners rebelled and began using smaller evergreen shrubs. Switchgrass is a tall-growing, warm-season, perennial grass that is native to much of the United States including Virginia. That’s why it is important to control weeds prior to seedbed preparation. Basketball-size clumps will make great specimens within a year. 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. Get to know this valuable group of plants; every American garden should have some. Switchgrass is used for pasture and makes a good quality hay when mowed prior to seedhead formation. In order to germinate, it needs the soil to be 55 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer. This North American native has many of the attributes that make ornamental grasses popular. Native grasses were present in Michigan when Europeans arrived. 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. IA CP23 Standard $ 115.00 /acre. It is highly adaptable to a wide range of soils and growing conditions. 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! Plant in early spring. I think that process of freeze/thaw cycles is called “stratifying”. The soil temperature should be over 60 degrees when you plant. Copyright © 1996-2020 Michigan Gardener. The showy stonecrop sedums (. Switchgrass is easily identified by a small nest of hair where the blades attach to the sheath. You can also plant cool season grasses during August; however, spring plantings are more successful. The only switchgrass I have ever planted was “pre-stratified”. This breed does not mind the cold and can survive harsh winters, as is the case with many things from the north. Others found solace with upright sedums like. 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. Russian sage (Perovskia) offers lavender flowers above silvery foliage that grows 3 to 4 feet tall. These guys are the experts. 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. Panicum ‘Prairie Skies’ is a more upright grower like ‘Heavy Metal,’ only larger, to 5 or 6 feet tall. 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. Its other distinction is its deep red leaf color that starts in June and intensifies as the season progresses. Planting switchgrass for deer habitat does make some sense, but I have never been a big fan of it. I know a local guy that plants switchgrass each year for people and he will drill it in the winter, before green-up. by George Papadelis. Native grass plantings of warm-season species provide … Learning how to plant switchgrass by either frost seeding or using a no till drill, will offer you 2 sure-fire ways … It produces yellowish flowers in late fall that blush to tan for a winter show. The best time to plant switchgrass is in the winter. It should not be grazed closer than 5 to 7 inches during the growing season. Northern upland switchgrass typically lives on ridgelines and in prairie areas in states such as South Dakota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Switch grass is a versatile plant that provides year-round interest with minimal care. Height can range from 3 feet to as tall as 7 feet. Planting switchgrass for deer habitat does make some sense, but I have never been a big fan of it. 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. Your county Michigan State University Extension office has soil test kits available for a small fee and can analyze samples for you. 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. Switchgrass seed is the only warm season grass type that is smooth and therefore will run through conventional planting equipment. 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. The purple flower sprays that emerge in late summer are followed by its bright yellow fall color. It's the best time to plant switchgrass, since it gives the roots time to get established before the temperature gets too hot. 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