Seven (More) Switchgrasses

Today I potted up seven rooted sections of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Four of them were 'Shenandoah' which gains a reddish coloring in the leaves in late summer and fall and three were 'Northwind' which has a taller and more upright shape. Switchgrasses are definitely "where it's at" when it comes to ornamental grasses today. They are native plants and aren't invasive. To make things even more perfect ethanol producers have been using switchgrass as a substitute for corn to produce biofuels. Not a bad plant by any means! Because it's a native it is well adapted to our weather and should be able to survive random periods of drought like we've been having lately. (Only .3 of an inch in the last two weeks - not fun for the gardener or the garden!)

Since these are such great plants to have in the garden I decided to increase my stock of switchgrass by what else? Propagation!

'Shenandoah' Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

How to Propagate Switchgrass

Propagating Switchgrass is very easy through division. The exact method of division depends on the size plant I want. If I want smaller plants that don't effect the size of the mother plant I take pieces from the outside of the clump, move the soil away, and remove a stem with roots with a sharp knife (or a good yank - but sometimes the roots don't come and the stem separates at the nodes). This is very easy to do and you can make many (albeit small) divisions.  These switchgrass divisions are now potted up individually where I will grow them until they have grown a large enough root system to be planted in the yard. Hopefully I'll have the time to make a few more divisions later in the week.

Now if I want larger clumps I would dig up the whole clump and use a shovel to slice through the entire root system. This method will produce about 4 (sometimes more) decent sized clumps from a large switchgrass. It's more labor intensive than the first method but gives you a larger clump faster. The first method can be done nearly anytime since it isn't very invasive but I wouldn't even consider doing the second method (digging up the clump) unless it was early in the year when we were still receiving rain and the new growth was fairly short. Early spring is probably the best time to divide a large clump.

Have you added switchgrass to your garden?

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