Friday, March 18, 2016

I Knew Which Way the Wind was Blowing...

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum 'Heavy Metal') stands strong all winter long. I love the sound it makes when the wind rustles through the leaves. Switchgrass is a warm-season grass, which means most years I don't think it really gets started in Middle Tennessee until April. 

Typically, I'd probably wait until late March to cut back the switchgrass. Since March has been an unusually warm this year, I cut back the switchgrass about a week ago. 

Now I can't tell which way the wind is blowing anymore just by looking out the window to see how the grass is leaning. 



  1. Excellent observation, and a question I often ponder here in Columbus Ohio. Thank you.

  2. Switchgrass is a favorite of mine also. Unfortunately our heavy snow often knocks much of it down by spring. I'll be cutting mine back by the first week of April, usually I get to it a little earlier.

    1. Our seasonal snowfalls are nothing compared to yours. That said, I did notice that switchgrass can get knocked down by ice and/or snow, but it seems to bounce up again pretty quickly when the frozen precipitation melts.

      I've had bigger problems with the grasses getting flattened by heavy summer thunderstorms. I've had to go out and tie a couple of them up with twine after the fact.

      I think the only negative thing I could say about switchgrass is that its roots are so woody and deep, that I've found it quite difficult to divide and/or move. I read one person compare dividing switchgrass to dividing a tree trunk - a task best accomplished with an axe or chainsaw...though I used a mattock to attack one of mine that I needed to uproot.

      Still, I suppose the tough roots explain why this plant can handle just about anything that Mother Nature throws its way.

      Do you know whether it's possible to kill a clump of switchgrass just by repeatedly cutting it back so that the roots decompose and improve the soil? I'm tempted to try it sometime down the road, though I expect it would be a long-term process (like cutting down a crape myrtle tree and then cutting back suckers for years - something else I've also done / am doing).

  3. 'Heavy Metal' and 'Cloud Nine' are my favorite Panicum virgatum cultivars. The other ones I have tend to flop a lot and those never flop at all.

    1. Hm. I've heard 'Cloud Nine' is a good one. Haven't seen it locally - just via mailorder.

      I agree that Heavy Metal is very upright.

      I like the switchgrasses I have now, but I'm torn about whether to add more to the garden.


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