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What is torpedo grass?
Torpedograss is a perennial grass that can grow up to 40 inches tall from creeping rhizomes (underground stems that form lateral shoots and roots) and stolons (aboveground stems that creep across the ground or float in aquatic environments).
In a novel application, US scientists have genetically modified switchgrass to enable it to produce polyhydroxybutyrate, which accumulates in beadlike granules within the plant’s cells. In preliminary tests, the dry weight of a plants leaves were shown to comprise up to 3.7% of the polymer. Such low accumulation rates do not, as of 2009, allow for commercial use of switchgrass as a biosource.
What is switchblade grass?
Switchgrass – also called tall panic grass, tall prairiegrass, wild redtop, thatchgrass, and other common names – is one of the main species of grasses of the North American tallgrass prairie, ranging from southern Canada (south of latitude 55°N) to Mexico over most of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.
Mowing and properly labeled herbicides are recommended for weed control. Chemical weed control can be used in the fall prior to establishment, or before or after planting. Weeds should be mowed just above the height of the growing switchgrass. Hormone herbicides, such as 2,4-D, should be avoided as they are known to reduce development of switchgrass when applied early in the establishing year. Plantings that appear to have failed due to weed infestations are often wrongly assessed, as the failure is often more apparent than real. Switchgrass stands that are initially weedy commonly become well established with appropriate management in subsequent years. Once established, switchgrass can take up to three years to reach its full production potential. Depending on the region, it can typically produce 1/4 to 1/3 of its yield potential in its first year and 2/3 of its potential in the year after seeding.
Bai et al. (2010) conducted a study to analyze the environmental sustainability of using switchgrass plant material as a feedstock for ethanol production. Life cycle analysis was used to make this assessment. They compared efficiency of E10, E85, and ethanol with gasoline. They took into account air and water emissions associated with growing, managing, processing and storing the switchgrass crop. They also factored in the transportation of the stored switchgrass to the ethanol plant where they assumed the distance was 20 km. The reductions in global warming potential by using E10 and E85 were 5 and 65%, respectively. Their models also suggested that the “human toxicity potential” and “eco-toxicity potential” were substantially greater for the high ethanol fuels (i.e., E85 and ethanol) than for gasoline and E10.
Switchgrass is an excellent forage for cattle; however, it has shown toxicity in horses, sheep, and goats through chemical compounds known as saponins, which cause photosensitivity and liver damage in these animals. Researchers are continuing to learn more about the specific conditions under which switchgrass causes harm to these species, but until more is discovered, it is recommended switchgrass not be fed to them. For cattle, however, it can be fed as hay, or grazed.
Grazing switchgrass calls for watchful management practices to ensure survival of the stand. It is recommended that grazing begin when the plants are about 50 cm tall, and that grazing be discontinued when the plants have been eaten down to about 25 cm, and to rest the pasture 30 – 45 days between grazing periods. Switchgrass becomes stemmy and unpalatable as it matures, but during the target grazing period, it is a favorable forage with a relative feed value (RFV) of 90-104. The grass’s upright growth pattern places its growing point off the soil surface onto its stem, so leaving 25 cm of stubble is important for regrowth. When harvesting switchgrass for hay, the first cutting occurs at the late boot stage – around mid-June. This should allow for a second cutting in mid-August, leaving enough regrowth to survive the winter.
Panicum virgatum cultivars are used as ornamental plants in gardens and landscaping. The following have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit:- Historically, the major constraint to the development of grasses for thermal energy applications has been the difficulty associated with burning grasses in conventional boilers, as biomass quality problems can be of particular concern in combustion applications. These technical problems now appear to have been largely resolved through crop management practices such as fall mowing and spring harvesting that allow for leaching to occur, which leads to fewer aerosol-forming compounds (such as K and Cl) and N in the grass. This reduces clinker formation and corrosion, and enables switchgrass to be a clean combustion fuel source for use in smaller combustion appliances. Fall harvested grasses likely have more application for larger commercial and industrial boilers. Switchgrass is also being used to heat small industrial and farm buildings in Germany and China through a process used to make a low quality natural gas substitute. Switchgrass is useful for soil conservation and amendment, particularly in the United States and Canada, where switchgrass is endemic. Switchgrass has a deep fibrous root system – nearly as deep as the plant is tall. Since it, along with other native grasses and forbs, once covered the plains of the United States that are now the Corn Belt, the effects of the past switchgrass habitat have been beneficial, lending to the fertile farmland that exists today. The deep fibrous root systems of switchgrass left a deep rich layer of organic matter in the soils of the Midwest, making those mollisol soils some of the most productive in the world. By returning switchgrass and other perennial prairie grasses as an agricultural crop, many marginal soils may benefit from increased levels of organic material, permeability, and fertility, due to the grass’s deep root system.
In 2014, a genetically altered form of the bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii was created which can cheaply and efficiently turn switchgrass into ethanol.
Considerable effort is being expended in developing switchgrass as a cellulosic ethanol crop in the USA. In George W. Bush’s 2006 State of the Union Address, he proposed using switchgrass for ethanol; since then, over US$100 million has been invested into researching switchgrass as a potential biofuel source. Switchgrass has the potential to produce up to 380 liters of ethanol per tonne harvested. However, current technology for herbaceous biomass conversion to ethanol is about 340 liters per tonne. In contrast, corn ethanol yields about 400 liters per tonne.Switchgrass is a versatile and adaptable plant. It can grow and even thrive in many weather conditions, lengths of growing seasons, soil types, and land conditions. Its distribution spans south of latitude 55°N from Saskatchewan to Nova Scotia, south over most of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, and further south into Mexico. As a warm-season perennial grass, most of its growth occurs from late spring through early fall; it becomes dormant and unproductive during colder months. Thus, the productive season in its northern habitat can be as short as three months, but in the southern reaches of its habitat the growing season may be as long as eight months, around the Gulf Coast area.In native prairies, switchgrass is historically found in association with several other important native tallgrass prairie plants, such as big bluestem, indiangrass, little bluestem, sideoats grama, eastern gamagrass, and various forbs (sunflowers, gayfeather, prairie clover, and prairie coneflower). These widely adapted tallgrass species once occupied millions of hectares. Panicum virgatum, commonly known as switchgrass, is a perennial warm season bunchgrass native to North America, where it occurs naturally from 55°N latitude in Canada southwards into the United States and Mexico. Switchgrass is one of the dominant species of the central North American tallgrass prairie and can be found in remnant prairies, in native grass pastures, and naturalized along roadsides. It is used primarily for soil conservation, forage production, game cover, as an ornamental grass, in phytoremediation projects, fiber, electricity, heat production, for biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and more recently as a biomass crop for ethanol and butanol. Soil erosion, both from wind and water, is of great concern in regions where switchgrass grows. Due to its height, switchgrass can form an effective wind erosion barrier. Its root system, also, is excellent for holding soil in place, which helps prevent erosion from flooding and runoff. Some highway departments (for example, KDOT) have used switchgrass in their seed mixes when re-establishing growth along roadways. It can also be used on strip mine sites, dikes, and pond dams. Conservation districts in many parts of the United States use it to control erosion in grass waterways because of its ability to anchor soils while providing habitat for wildlife. Other common names for switchgrass include tall panic grass, Wobsqua grass, blackbent, tall prairiegrass, wild redtop, thatchgrass, and Virginia switchgrass. After establishment, switchgrass management will depend on the goal of the seeding. Historically, most switchgrass seedings have been managed for the Conservation Reserve Program in the US. Disturbance such as periodic mowing, burning, or disking is required to optimize the stand’s utility for encouraging biodiversity. Increased attention is being placed on switchgrass management as an energy crop. Generally, the crop requires modest application of nitrogen fertilizer, as it is not a heavy feeder. Typical nitrogen (N) content of senescent material in the fall is 0.5% N. Fertilizer nitrogen applications of about 5 kg N/hectare (ha) applied for each tonne of biomass removed is a general guideline. More specific recommendations for fertilization are available regionally in North America. Herbicides are not often used on switchgrass after the seeding year, as the crop is generally quite competitive with weeds. Most bioenergy conversion processes for switchgrass, including those for cellulosic ethanol and pellet fuel production, can generally accept some alternative species in the harvested biomass. Stands of switchgrass should be harvested no more than twice per year, and one cutting often provides as much biomass as two. Switchgrass can be harvested with the same field equipment used for hay production, and it is well-suited to baling or bulk field harvesting. If its biology is properly taken into consideration, switchgrass can offer great potential as an energy crop.The main advantage of using switchgrass over corn as an ethanol feedstock is its cost of production is generally about 1/2 that of grain corn, and more biomass energy per hectare can be captured in the field. Thus, switchgrass cellulosic ethanol should give a higher yield of ethanol per hectare at lower cost. However, this will depend on whether the cost of constructing and operating cellulosic ethanol plants can be reduced considerably. The switchgrass ethanol industry energy balance is also considered to be substantially better than that of corn ethanol. During the bioconversion process, the lignin fraction of switchgrass can be burned to provide sufficient steam and electricity to operate the biorefinery. Studies have found that for every unit of energy input needed to create a biofuel from switchgrass, four units of energy are yielded. In contrast, corn ethanol yields about 1.28 units of energy per unit of energy input. A recent study from the Great Plains indicated that for ethanol production from switchgrass, this figure is 6.4, or alternatively, that 540% more energy was contained in the ethanol produced than was used in growing the switchgrass and converting it to liquid fuel. However, there remain commercialization barriers to the development of cellulosic ethanol technology. Projections in the early 1990s for commercialization of cellulosic ethanol by the year 2000 have not been met. The commercialization of cellulosic ethanol is thus proving to be a significant challenge, despite noteworthy research efforts.
Switchgrass is well known among wildlife conservationists as good forage and habitat for upland game bird species, such as pheasant, quail, grouse, and wild turkey, and song birds, with its plentiful small seeds and tall cover. A study published in 2015 has shown that switchgrass, when grown in a traditional monoculture, has an adverse impact on some wildlife. Depending on how thickly switchgrass is planted, and what it is partnered with, it also offers excellent forage and cover for other wildlife across the country. For those producers who have switchgrass stands on their farm, it is considered an environmental and aesthetic benefit due to the abundance of wildlife attracted by the switchgrass stands. Some members of Prairie Lands Bio-Products, Inc. in Iowa have even turned this benefit into a profitable business by leasing their switchgrass land for hunting during the proper seasons. The benefits to wildlife can be extended even in large-scale agriculture through the process of strip harvesting, as recommended by The Wildlife Society, which suggests that rather than harvesting an entire field at once, strip harvesting could be practiced so that the entire habitat is not removed, thereby protecting the wildlife inhabiting the switchgrass.
Switchgrass has been researched as a renewable bioenergy crop since the mid-1980s, because it is a native perennial warm season grass with the ability to produce moderate to high yields on marginal farmlands. It is now being considered for use in several bioenergy conversion processes, including cellulosic ethanol production, biogas, and direct combustion for thermal energy applications. The main agronomic advantages of switchgrass as a bioenergy crop are its stand longevity, drought and flooding tolerance, relatively low herbicide and fertilizer input requirements, ease of management, hardiness in poor soil and climate conditions, and widespread adaptability in temperate climates. In some warm humid southern zones, such as Alabama, it has the ability to produce up to 25 oven-dry tonnes per hectare (ODT/ha). A summary of switchgrass yields across 13 research trial sites in the United States found the top two cultivars in each trial to yield 9.4 to 22.9 t/ha, with an average yield of 14.6 ODT/ha. However, these yields were recorded on small plot trials, and commercial field sites could be expected to be at least 20% lower than these results. In the United States, switchgrass yields appear to be highest in warm humid regions with long growing seasons such as the US Southeast and lowest in the dry short season areas of the Northern Great Plains. The energy inputs required to grow switchgrass are favorable when compared with annual seed bearing crops such as corn, soybean, or canola, which can require relatively high energy inputs for field operations, crop drying, and fertilization. Whole plant herbaceous perennial C4 grass feedstocks are desirable biomass energy feedstocks, as they require fewer fossil energy inputs to grow and effectively capture solar energy because of their C4 photosynthetic system and perennial nature. One study cites it takes from 0.97 to 1.34 GJ to produce 1 tonne of switchgrass, compared with 1.99 to 2.66 GJ to produce 1 tonne of corn. Another study found that switchgrass uses 0.8 GJ/ODT of fossil energy compared to grain corn’s 2.9 GJ/ODT. Given that switchgrass contains approximately 18.8 GJ/ODT of biomass, the energy output-to-input ratio for the crop can be up to 20:1. This highly favorable ratio is attributable to its relatively high energy output per hectare and low energy inputs for production.Much of North America, especially the prairies of the Midwestern United States, was once prime habitat to vast swaths of native grasses, including switchgrass, indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and others. As European settlers began spreading west across the continent, the native grasses were plowed under and the land converted to crops such as corn, wheat, and oats. Introduced grasses such as fescue, bluegrass, and orchardgrass also replaced the native grasses for use as hay and pasture for cattle.Switchgrass can be used as a feedstock for biomass energy production, as ground cover for soil conservation, and to control erosion, for forages and grazing, as game cover, and as feedstock for biodegradable plastics. It can be used by cattle farmers for hay and pasture and as a substitute for wheat straw in many applications, including livestock bedding, straw bale housing, and as a substrate for growing mushrooms.The steel blue foliage of this grass is a magnificent garden accent. It has a strong upright, columnar stance bringing a vertical element to beds and borders. In fall, golden seed heads add interest. Use as an accent or plant in groups.
There are a wide variety of switchgrass cultivars. Some ornamental cultivars can be more sensitive to their environments than others, so checking their needs before planting is essential. Some of the most popular or unique include:
Frequent, heavy rain or overwatering can lead to yellowing. If you see the grass turning yellow, cut back on watering. Another potential cause of yellowing is nutritional imbalances. Check your pH levels; also, the fertilizer salts might be off-kilter. Yellowing can often turn around with a liquid feed of fertilizer 10-10-20 that contains iron.
Can I split maiden grass?
However, you can divide maiden grass even in mid summer. You will want to use twine to separate the grass into sections so you can expose the base of the grass for easier dividing. By dividing the plant every 3-4 years, gardeners can keep their Maiden Grass looking its best and encourage continued healthy growth.
Mary Marlowe Leverette is one of the industry’s most highly-regarded housekeeping and fabric care experts, sharing her knowledge on efficient housekeeping, laundry, and textile conservation. She is also a Master Gardener with over 40+ years of experience and 20+ years of writing experience. Mary is also a member of The Spruce Gardening and Plant Care Review Board.Seeds need plenty of light, moisture, and warm conditions to germinate. Seedlings form quickly—usually within a few weeks. They take hold easily, so start them indoors in typical potting soil and give them ample light from a sunny windowsill. Regular watering is enough to give them a good start. However, this plant takes time for its rhizomes to establish.
Part of the appeal of switchgrass is that it can tolerate being planted in most soil types. It does, however, prefer a moist sandy or clay variety. Be aware that if the soil is overly rich, this could result in the stalks flopping, and you may need to stake them up.
No special care is needed for overwintering switchgrass. It is cold-hardy to USDA zone 3, which includes places like northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Maine. It can withstand temperatures as low as -40 to -30 F. It grows year after year, returning in the spring when soil temperatures warm up.
Switchgrass prefers a full sun position. This will ensure vigorous growth, tall and upright stalks, and the most interesting color. It can handle part shade but be prepared for the stalks to droop and the clumps to be less tightly formed.
Division is best done in the late spring as the roots need warm soil to establish. Clump division is recommended every few years, as the center of the clumps begin to die out, which will help boost their vigor.Switchgrass is a potential vector for the Japanese beetle and Spotted wing drosophila, which can wreak havoc on commercial crops, especially fruits. Switchgrass planted near large farms can be a potential problem, so keep the location of your garden and landscape design in mind when you plant switchgrass. Although switchgrass can grow quickly from seeds harvested from your mature grass, seedlings may differ significantly from the original plants. To replicate the shades and height of the plants you already have in your garden, divide the clumps instead. Switchgrass is a warm-season grass that thrives in the heat of summer and goes dormant in the cold winters. The soil must be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer to germinate or grow.A drought-tolerant species, switchgrass can handle dry and hot conditions well. For best growth, though, it prefers to be kept moist. It can even handle light flooding; sometimes it’s used successfully in boggy areas around ponds.Fungal diseases, however, are much more common. These might include rust, leaf spot, and smut. A fungicide can be beneficial in keeping large-scale problems with fungal diseases at bay.
What is the tallest maiden grass?
Maiden Grass, botanical name Miscanthus sinensis Gracillimus, is suited to USDA zones 4-9, with full sun. It soon becomes quite large, reaching a height of 6 ft. to 8 ft. and a spread of 3 ft. to 5 ft.
This low-maintenance plant is resistant to disease and not bothered by pests. With its spreading rhizomatous roots and clump-forming habit, switchgrass is ideal for use in sloped areas prone to erosion.It is being heralded as the next leading biofuel crop in the United States. Fuel made from switchgrass seems more efficient than corn. Switchgrass contains more than five times as much energy than it takes to grow and refine it into ethanol—although the refinement process has not been established yet.
What is the tallest switch grass?
Cloud Nine’ Tall Switchgrass ‘Cloud Nine’ Tall Switchgrass is the winner of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. It is the tallest switchgrass cultivar available, but it maintains a compact footprint, spreading slowly by rhizomes to form a dense clump up to 3 feet in diameter.
When you visit the site, Dotdash Meredith and its partners may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Cookies collect information about your preferences and your devices and are used to make the site work as you expect it to, to understand how you interact with the site, and to show advertisements that are targeted to your interests. You can find out more about our use, change your default settings, and withdraw your consent at any time with effect for the future by visiting Cookies Settings, which can also be found in the footer of the site.While it’s easy to start switchgrass indoors and keep it inside until the seedlings are hardy enough for outdoor planting, keeping it as an indoor plant is difficult since it needs constant full sun and warm soil.Mechanical control is only moderately effective for controlling torpedograss. Mechanical methods include tillage, digging, mowing and burning; however, these methods can result in numerous rhizome fragments that can sprout and produce aerial shoots. Hoeing and hand weeding are also known to be ineffective due to its rapid growth from underground rhizomes. Continuous tillage can be effective under the right conditions, such as soil conditions, climate, and the depth of tillage. In many natural areas, particularly wetlands, tillage is impractical and difficult to use. Digging the rhizomes out has been attempted in few studies, but in large areas it is impractical, expensive, and time-consuming, and it usually results in further spread of rhizome fragments (Chandrasena 1990; Manipura and Somaratne 1974). However, this method may work in very small areas, such as landscape beds where the infestation is confined. Mowing is only marginally effective, and torpedograss can tolerate grazing and trampling. Fire can be used to destroy the aboveground vegetation, but the rhizomes are protected underground and can resprout.
Yuvraj Khamare, graduate research assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, Apopka, FL; Candice Prince, assistant professor, Agronomy Department, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, Gainesville, FL; and Chris Marble, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, Apopka, FL; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.Torpedograss can be extremely difficult and expensive to control. Prevention should be part of every management plan. For torpedograss, the spread of rhizomes can be limited by controlling populations near waterways, properly cleaning machinery such as lawnmowers and boats, and only accepting materials like soil, mulch, and hay from certified sources. In addition, maintaining a healthy ecosystem with native species diversity may limit the amount of open and disturbed habitat available for torpedograss establishment (Mack et al. 2000). Culms (aerial stems) are 15 to 40 inches in height, rigid, and erect, and they originate from sturdy, robust rhizomes that have many nodes. The stem’s base is wrapped with bladeless overlapping sheaths. The leaf sheaths are hairy with thin and dry margins. The upper sheaths are mostly glabrous (lacking hairs) with hairs restricted to the upper margin. The ligules (a scale at the attachment of the leaf sheaf to the leaf blade) are a short-ciliate membrane surrounded by fringed hairs. The leaf blades are stiff, linear, flat, or folded with a waxy or whitish surface and about 10 inches long (Figure 2). The leaf blades are approximately 0.1 inch wide when flat and 0.2 inch wide folded. The leaves are stiff and rigid, flat, or rolled and spreading. Torpedograss is a perennial grass that can grow up to 40 inches tall from creeping rhizomes (underground stems that form lateral shoots and roots) and stolons (aboveground stems that creep across the ground or float in aquatic environments).Torpedograss (Panicum repens) is one of the most invasive perennial grass species in Florida landscapes. Torpedograss is currently listed as a noxious weed in Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, and Texas and is ranked as a Category I invasive by the Florida Invasive Species Council (FISC), meaning that it alters native plant communities through its impacts (FISC 2019; PIER 2021; USDA-NRCS 2021). This document was written for green industry professionals and others to aid in the identification and management of torpedograss in landscape planting beds. For information on torpedograss management in turfgrass, see “Torpedograss Biology and Management in Turf.”
The seeds are white, smooth, and 2.2–3.1 mm long. The fruits are lanceolate (lance-shaped) with straw-colored caryopses (dry fruit). The caryopsis is pale yellow and oval (Figure 5).
There is limited information available regarding the seed production or viability of torpedograss. It has been reported that the seeds are largely nonviable. Researchers were unable to stimulate germination of seeds from torpedograss in the United States (Wilcut et al. 1988); however, limited production of viable seeds has been observed in Florida.
Torpedograss is commonly found in cultivated and abandoned fields, open ground, gardens, lawns, and landscape planting beds. It also flourishes in aquatic habitats like wet pastures, lakeshores, freshwater and brackish marshes, and other wetland areas (Prince and Macdonald 2020). It is found in more than 70% of Florida’s public waters (Schardt 1994) and is considered one of the most troublesome grassy weeds in southern Florida due to its impacts on native plant communities (Tarver 1979).
What is panic grass used for?
It is used primarily for soil conservation, forage production, game cover, as an ornamental grass, in phytoremediation projects, fiber, electricity, heat production, for biosequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and more recently as a biomass crop for ethanol and butanol.
In Florida, torpedograss flowers throughout the summer and into early fall from May to November. The inflorescence or the flowering portion is a loose open panicle, 3 to 9 inches long with few to many branches (Figure 4). The stalked spikelets (flowering parts attached at their base to the spike) are ovate, glabrous, and approximately 2–3 mm long and 1 mm wide. The outermost spikelet bract (first glume) is short, truncate, and loose, and it nearly encircles the base of the other spikelet bracts.
Postemergence herbicides are the most common and widely used method of torpedograss control. Two of the most effective herbicides for torpedograss control are glyphosate and imazapyr (McCarty et al. 1993). While glyphosate can be used as in landscape planting beds if applied as a directed application, imazapyr is not labeled for use in landscapes and application can result in severe injury or death to landscape ornamentals. In areas where glyphosate can be applied without contacting nearby ornamental plants, it can be applied as a 2% to 3% v/v solution; however, repeated applications are often needed for complete control (Nir 1988). In cases where torpedograss is growing through the canopy of shrubs (Figure 6), graminicides such as fluazifop-P-butyl (Fusilade II), which is labeled for torpedograss suppression, or sethoxydim (Segment II), can be applied as an over-the-top application to most broadleaf ornamental plants. However, these herbicides are typically less effective than glyphosate and multiple applications are usually needed for long-term control (Enloe et al. 2018). Because torpedograss primarily spreads via rhizomes, preemergence herbicides are not an effective option.
Holm, L. G., D. L. Plocknett, J. V. Pancho, and J. P. Herberger. 1977. “The World’s Worst Weeds: Distribution and Biology.” Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii.
Enloe, S. F., M. D. Netherland, and D. K. Lauer. 2018. “Evaluation of Sethoxydim for Torpedograss Control in Aquatic Wetland Sites.” J. Aquat. Plant Manage. 56:93–100.
Torpedograss prefers to grow in warm-to-hot climates in sandy soils with abundant moisture and full sun (Holm et al. 1977). Torpedograss grows in several soil types, from sandy, well-drained soils to heavy waterlogged soils, and it can tolerate a moderate range of salinity levels (Ramiti et al. 1979). It thrives on wet organic soil but can also grow on high land under drought conditions, and the rhizomes can survive extended periods of water stress (Hodges and Jones 1950). It is sensitive to prolonged cold temperature, limiting it from spreading at upper latitudes or altitudes. Torpedograss sprouting, shoot growth, height, and leaf area generally increase as the temperature increases (Hossain et al. 2001; Wilcut et al. 1988).The name “torpedograss” originates from its rhizomes, which are rigid with sharp-pointed, torpedo-like growing tips (Figure 3). Torpedograss has both long and short knotty rhizomes. The rhizomes can grow up to 20 feet long and are 0.1 to 0.2 inch in diameter with overlapping brownish-to-white scales and swollen bulbil-like nodes. The bulbil-like nodes are known to have abundant carbohydrate reserves. These reserves are used by the plant for rapid regeneration from axillary buds when the rhizomes are divided or cut. Most of the rhizomes of torpedograss are present in the top 24 inches of soil.
Torpedograss produces seeds with little to no viability. It primarily spreads vegetatively by rhizomes and stem fragments, which can form new plants. New buds are produced along the entire length of the rhizome, which form into aerial stems (Figure 1).
Torpedograss can be confused with a similar-looking grass called maidencane (Panicum hemitomon), which is native to Florida. Maidencane is a common grass of wetlands and prefers to grow in water or wet soils. Maidencane does not have torpedo-shaped rhizomes.
Torpedograss establishes and spreads vegetatively via rhizomes and stem fragmentation (Holm et al. 1977). Rhizome sprouting occurs via the axillary buds, which are produced along the entire length of the rhizomes (Wilcut et al. 1988). Up to 60% of initial fresh weight of rhizomes are tolerant to desiccation. The plant allocates much of its biomass to the rhizomes, which are strong enough to penetrate wood and asphalt. On a golf course in Florida, it was observed that 87% of total torpedograss biomass was present in its rhizomes (Busey 2003). Torpedograss regenerative buds are not limited to its rhizomes; they can also form on tillers and stem fragments.
Prince, C. M., and G. E. MacDonald. 2020. “Chemical Control of Torpedograss and Common Reed under Altered Salinity Conditions.” J. Aquat. Plant Manage. 58:26–35. The native range of torpedograss is unknown, but it is thought to be native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa (Hossain et al. 1999). According to Holm et al. (1977), it is native to Eurasia and has spread throughout the tropics and subtropics of both hemispheres. It is now widely spread throughout the world and is well established as one of the world’s worst weeds (Holm et al. 1977; Panchal 1981). Torpedograss was introduced to the United States prior to 1876, either in ship ballast or as a potential forage grass for southeastern states (Tabor 1952). It was widely distributed throughout Florida in the early 1900s for cattle forage. Hodges, E. M., and D. W. Jones. 1950. “Torpedo Grass.” Ag. Experiment Station Circular S 14. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS).Dividing Maiden Grass (Miscanthus) is a process of separating the root mass of an established plant into smaller sections to promote healthy growth, maintain its size, and improve its appearance. Maiden grass has a habit of expanding outward and after a few years you may find that it is encroaching on other plants in the garden. Dividing will help you keep it in check. This process can be performed in early spring or fall, before new growth begins (you can cut the dead grass away and its much easier to divide with a clear view of root clump. However, you can divide maiden grass even in mid summer. You will want to use twine to separate the grass into sections so you can expose the base of the grass for easier dividing. By dividing the plant every 3-4 years, gardeners can keep their Maiden Grass looking its best and encourage continued healthy growth.
Before you start dividing your Maiden Grass, it’s essential to understand the size and shape of the plant. Maiden Grass can grow up to 6-8 feet tall, so it’s crucial to choose a location that will accommodate its mature size. It’s also important to understand the growth habit of the plant, which is typically clump-forming. This means that the plant grows in a circular shape, with new growth emerging from the center.
Next, divide the root mass into smaller sections, making sure each section has a healthy root system and some green growth. It’s important to avoid damaging the roots or leaving any sections without enough roots to support healthy growth. Each section should have several healthy roots, as well as some green growth, such as leaves or shoots.
Once you have divided your Maiden Grass into smaller sections, it’s time to replant each section into the garden. Choose a location with well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Make sure the soil is loose and well-drained, and add some compost or other organic matter to improve the soil quality. Plant each section at the same depth as originally planted, and water well.The first step in dividing Maiden Grass is to dig up the entire plant, including all of its roots. Be sure to use a sharp spade or other digging tool to avoid damaging the roots. Once you have the plant out of the ground, shake off any excess soil and examine the root mass. If the roots are dense and compact, it may be difficult to separate them into smaller sections. In this case, you may need to use a sharp knife or pruning saw to cut the roots into smaller sections.It’s important to water your newly divided Maiden Grass regularly, especially during its first growing season. This will help the roots establish themselves and promote healthy growth. Also, if you live in a hot, dry climate, you may need to water more frequently to ensure that the soil stays moist.
Maiden Grass is a popular ornamental grass prized for its striking foliage and elegant, feathery plumes. This Grass is native to Asia and is known for its ability to tolerate a range of growing conditions. It is also drought-tolerant and low-maintenance, making it an excellent choice for gardeners who want an attractive, low-care plant.Dividing Maiden Grass (Miscanthus) is a simple process that can help to promote healthy growth and maintain its size and appearance. By dividing the plant every 3-4 years, you can keep your Maiden Grass looking its best and prevent it from taking up too much garden real estate. With its striking foliage, elegant plumes and winter interest, this plant is a great choice for gardeners who want a low-maintenance, attractive ornamental grass.
How tall is silver grass?
3–10 ft. tall How to Grow and Care for Chinese Silver GrassCommon NameChinese silver grass, Japanese silver grass, eulalia grassFamilyPoaceaePlant TypeHerbaceous, perennialMature Size3–10 ft. tall, 3–6 ft. wideSun ExposureFull, partial
This sturdy selection forms a towering, strictly upright clump of striking steel blue foliage; golden seed heads in fall; perfect as a landscape accent, or along bordersPrairie Winds® Totem Pole Switch Grass is an herbaceous perennial grass with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other garden plants with less refined foliage.
This plant does best in full sun to partial shade. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist locations, and should do just fine under typical garden conditions. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is not particular as to soil type, but has a definite preference for alkaline soils, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This is a selection of a native North American species. It can be propagated by division; however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.
This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and is best cut back to the ground in late winter before active growth resumes. It has no significant negative characteristics. Prairie Winds® Totem Pole Switch Grass features airy plumes of gold flowers rising above the foliage from late summer to late fall. Its attractive grassy leaves emerge grayish green in spring, turning steel blue in color. As an added bonus, the foliage turns gorgeous shades of tan and in the fall. The gold seed heads are carried on showy plumes displayed in abundance from late summer to late fall. The steel blue stems are very colorful and add to the overall interest of the plant. Prairie Winds® Totem Pole Switch Grass will grow to be about 5 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 28 inches. It tends to be leggy, with a typical clearance of 1 foot from the ground, and should be underplanted with lower-growing perennials. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 15 years. As an herbaceous perennial, this plant will usually die back to the crown each winter, and will regrow from the base each spring. Be careful not to disturb the crown in late winter when it may not be readily seen!Prairie Winds® ‘Totem Pole’ Switch Grass is a gorgeous ornamental grass that is durable and withstanding of weather. It forms a tall, tight column of steel blue and will produce copper seed heads in the fall.
Native to eastern Asia, Chinese silver grass is available in a wide variety of cultivars, each with varying heights and color shades, including silver, pink, purple, and red. It is best planted in the spring from root divisions or potted nursery plants and will grow very quickly. Some dwarf cultivars don’t even reach 3 feet in height, but most are taller, with some growing over 10 feet tall.
Chinese silver grass can be very attractive through the winter, especially when light snow falls onto the clumps. So the plants are generally left standing through the winter, then cut back in the spring to make way for new growth.If you’re growing Chinese silver grass in its ideal soil type, there’s a good chance it won’t need any feeding at all. However, if you want to boost its growth and bloom potential after it’s established, you can use an organic fertilizer once a month during the summer. For the amount to use, follow the product label instructions.
Why is it called panic grass?
The Panic grasses actually take their name from the Latin word panus meaning a swelling or the grain millet.
If you prefer native species over the possibly invasive Asian grasses, then consider planting Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem). Native to eastern North America and hardy in zones 3 to 9, this 2- to 4-foot native prairie grass has a very attractive bronze orange fall color.There are over 150 different cultivars of Chinese silver grass, and they can each vary greatly in their height, color and pattern. Some of the more popular varieties include: Julie Thompson-Adolf is a Master Gardener and author with over 30 years of experience in year-round organic gardening; seed starting, growing heirlooms, and sustainable farming. If you’re looking to grow Chinese silver grass from seed, you’re in luck—the germination process is actually pretty fast, and usually occurs within two weeks. In the fall, sow the seeds on the surface of a moist, fertile soil mixture. Keep the seeds covered in a greenhouse-like environment for their first winter. They can then be transplanted to their permanent position in late spring or early summer of the following year. Make sure to harden off the seedlings before planting in the garden. Keep in mind, it will take you a full year before the plants produce flowers.Rampant spread can be a problem with Chinese silver grass, especially if you are growing the pure species plant rather than a named cultivar, many of which are bred to be sterile. Leaving the flower stalks in place through winter (a common practice) can lead to many hundreds of scattered seeds that will sprout up and create volunteer plants wherever they fall. Keep an eye on your plants and make sure to routinely pluck out volunteer seedlings that sprout up. If your plant becomes too much to handle, consider removing it and replacing it with a cultivar known to be sterile.
Chinese silver grass experiences no major issues with pests or disease, but in some regions, the plant can be plagued by mealybugs, which are difficult to treat because the pests dwell inside the stems. Spraying with a horticultural oil may offer some relief.Chinese silver grass is still attractive even when dormant in the winter, so it’s best to wait until the early spring before you cut it back. Doing so is actually beneficial to the plant’s overall health—it can help encourage vigorous new growth, as well as strong blooms.
Root division works well if you plan to propagate new plants from a mature clump of Chinese silver grass. The process is best done in late spring after any danger of frost has passed. Here’s how:
This plant will live for many decades, spreading gradually through expanding rhizomes. But clumps will gradually get sparse unless the rhizomes are dug up, divided, and replanted every few years.Chinese silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis) is a popular, clump-forming ornamental grass used to add a breezy, effortless elegance to gardens and landscapes. The grass boasts feathery plumed seed heads, which generally appear from late summer to early fall—and look good throughout the winter. The tall blades of the grass usually arch over gently, creating a pretty cascading effect that ripples in the wind.
Chinese silver grass is a relatively hardy species that does well with minimal care, making it a great way to fill in your landscape or add visual interest to your garden with very little effort. While these versatile and easy-to-grow grasses make for a great garden focal point, they also work well as privacy screens, border plants, or as a hedging alternative.
Container culture is possible for Chinese silver grass, though not common. When planted in pots, these tall grasses can be prone to blowing over in the wind, so if you choose to grow in a container, make sure to select a large, heavy pot, such as a concrete urn–but make sure the pot has drainage holes. Chinese silver grass will grow adequately in a well-draining pot filled with standard potting mix. Division and repotting will be necessary every year or two when this fast-growing plant becomes root-bound in its pot. Be prepared to water more frequently when growing Chinese silver grass in a container. Container-grown plants may also be somewhat less hardy than garden plants, as the roots are fairly exposed during the winter.Chinese silver grass is a versatile plant that works well planted individually as an accent plant, in small groups as a screening plant, as an edging plant for streams or ponds, or in naturalized meadow gardens. The flower stalks also keep well in cutting arrangements.
Chinese grass does best in soil that is consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Once the surface of the soil becomes dry, this is generally a good indicator that more water is required. Although it prefers moisture, the plant can handle periods of drought once fully established. Be careful about how you water; overhead pouring or spraying can have an impact on how effectively the water reaches the roots, and overly-wet blades can increase the chance of a fungal infection developing.
You can grow Chinese silver grass in a variety of different soil types with great success. That said, the plant tends to prefer a blend that is fertile, moist, loamy, and, above all, well-draining. Soil that remains too wet or waterlogged after watering can lead to root rot, which can also impact growth. Chinese silver grass does best in a slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 5.5 to 7.5), but will tolerate a mild degree of alkalinity.When you transplant seedlings, allow enough space between the plants for spreading, as this is a wide, clump-forming species that can take up quite a bit of space. The amount of space needed will vary depending on the mature size of the cultivar you’ve selected.
Are blades of grass alive?
It’s still alive. It just doesn’t have as much chlorophyll. It isn’t putting as much energy into new growth.
In regions where wildfires are a notable danger, large plantings of ornamental grasses such as Chinese silver grass are discouraged. Dried grasses can catch fire explosively if touched by flying embers. In such regions, if ornamental grasses are grown at all, it’s standard practice to grow them in small, isolated clumps well separated from buildings and to cut them down before the start of the dry season.Chinese silver grass prefers a position in full sun for optimal growth. Aim for a spot in your landscape that boasts at least six to eight hours of sunlight daily. While the plant can do well in partial shade (especially in hotter climates), it may experience less vigorous growth. Additionally, there’s a chance that too little sun can make the grass overly floppy, dull in color, or result in a reduced amount of blooming.
These plants have minimal maintenance needs, though they do need to be cut back in the spring to make room for new growth. And these plants prefer consistent moisture, which means you will likely be watering them weekly unless your climate provides sufficient rainfall.
The pure species form, Miscanthus sinensis, is considered invasive in many states, especially the Mid-Atlantic and Appalachian regions. However, many of the named cultivars are bred to be sterile, and are safe to plant in your landscape.Chinese silver grass is a remarkably trouble-free plant, but older clumps may get sparse and lose density when the roots become overgrown. The solution is an easy one: just dig up and divide the rhizomatous roots and replant to rejuvenate the colony.
Plants that refuse to remain upright and flop in an undisciplined manner are probably not getting enough sunlight. Shady conditions cause excessively long, leggy growth as the stalks reach for sunlight.
When dormant, Chinese silver grass is hardy down to minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the plant is not suited to regions that are susceptible to late spring frosts, which can damage tender new growth. This plant may have a difficult time flowering in the colder end of its hardiness range.
If self-seeding is a problem, the plants can be cut back in the fall before the flower heads dry, but doing will sacrifice the winter display which is the reason many people plant Chinese silver grass.At Nature Hills we handle, package and ship the products you order with the utmost care to ensure healthy delivery. Shipping and handling charges are calculated based on the tables below. Please note that some items include an additional handling surcharge, these will be noted on the item’s product page.
This proprietary eCommerce software prevents the shipment of a restricted plant to each state. The Plant Sentry system includes a shipment certification program. The Plant Sentry Compliance Officer works closely with NatureHills.com and each nursery or fulfillment center to ensure only compliant plants are sold to customers.Graceful garden grass perfect for tight spaces and smaller gardens, the Totem Pole Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum PRAIRIE WINDS ‘Totem Pole’) is exactly what you think of when you think of a Totem Pole!
Switchgrass adds graceful movement and peaceful music when blowing in the wind, but don’t let the grace and peace fool you into thinking this is a pansy. (No offense to our annual flower friends!) Totem Pole is very sturdy and will keep its shape all winter unless the snows are really heavy. Birds love to shelter in Switch Grass and peck at the seeds in their plumes throughout the cold winter months! Add to your Rock gardens and Sensory Gardens to enjoy rugged texture and beauty!
Panicum is hardy enough to withstand the cold winter throughout USDA growing zones 4 to 9. This warm-season grass may show up to the spring party late, but shows off big time for the rest of the year! Growing only 2 feet wide but 5-6 feet tall, Totem Pole gives you tallgrass prairie vibes without needing acres of space!
Plant Sentry is designed to protect both consumers and the nursery trade from invasive plant pests and diseases. Sites that display the Plant Sentry protection badge are protected from consumers buying and nurseries shipping material carrying invasive pests and diseases.To obtain a more accurate shipment time-frame, simply enter your zip code in the “Find Your Growing Zone” box to the right. Our plants are grown all over the country and lead time on items may be different because of this. Once your order is placed, you will also receive the specific shipment time-frame information as part of your order confirmation. Once an item ships, you will receive shipment notification and tracking numbers, so you can follow along while your plant travels to your doorstep. We use FedEx, UPS, or USPS at our discretion. Add texture and motion to your garden this year without sacrificing space! Order Totem Pole Switchgrass today from Nature Hills Nursery and get your Ornamental Grass shipped to your doorstep at the proper planting time for your growing zone! This fantastic warm-season Ornamental Grass grows from spring through summer into a very vertical column of blue-gray foliage and powder-blue stems. Then, in autumn, the top of the grass explodes like fireworks with gold seed panicles. The effect is overwhelmingly beautiful!
Need a tall, narrow, and flowing garden focal point to evoke majestic reverence and awe? Since the base of the Totem Pole Switch Grass clump stays small and narrow, it is a perfect plant for small spaces, as the ‘footprint’ is so small. It gives visual height and heft without taking up a lot of actual room. If you have a smaller garden, this grass will not only fit it, it will define it.
Due to winter weather we have put a hold on shipping to the areas shown below in grey. You can still order now and we will ship the plant to you during an appropriate time for your zone.
How do you divide switch grass?
Dig down with your shovel, in a circle, around the clump to uproot the whole clump. Divide the clump in fourths using the shovel end and replant it in a favorable location. This should only be done in the spring since this is an intrusive method that can stress the plant.
From a design perspective, this is a very versatile plant. Use it as a backlit specimen to draw your eye to the end of the garden. Use it in masses for a native tall-grass prairie look. Put it by the pool for a romantic screen. Plant it by ponds and streams for a rustic look. It even looks great in a container by the entryway!The full sun is best for this heat-loving, warm-season Ornamental Grass! Totem Pole thrives in most well-drained soil types and is a low moisture use plant once established. However xeric grasses can be, they do look best when provided a drink during extended drought. This warm-season grass should be cut to the ground each year in late winter or early spring before it starts to grow, and can be divided if the clump gets too large at that time. Switch Grass is resilient in heat, humidity, drought, wind, and even salt, plus deer seldom bother it!
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I’ve been wondering the same thing lately. Every time I go on walks, I notice new splashes of color. Watching bugs in the grass, I pretend they’re crawling through a jungle. Everything is bright and bursting with green.
Your eyes see color based on light. Many different colors make up sunlight, and objects either absorb or reflect them. When light gets absorbed, you don’t see its color. But when light reflects off objects, including grass, the color reaches your eyes so that’s what you see. That’s why the sky often looks blue. It’s absorbing all the other colors of light, except blue.
The same thing happens with chlorophyll. “Chlorophyll does a very good job of absorbing all colors of light except for green. When we look at the blade of grass, we’re seeing green light being reflected off the blade of grass,” Neff said.But maybe you’ve noticed grass isn’t always green. Depending on the time of year and where you live, different grass grows at different speeds. Here in Washington, most grass grows in the cool spring and fall weather.
“Food for a plant is a combination of sunlight and carbon dioxide together,” Neff explained. “And the chloroplast is the factory that turns those two pieces into energy.”
But when spring returns, so do the ingredients for growth—lots of water, light, and carbon dioxide. The grass takes it all in, making new cells full of chlorophyll. The cycle begins again.When I saw your question, I knew Michael Neff would know the answer. Green is his favorite color, too. (In fact, when we talked over video, he wore a green Hawaiian shirt.) Neff researches plants at Washington State University, and he is especially curious about grasses.If you chopped a piece of grass and looked at it with your eyes alone, you might not see much. But if you looked at it under a microscope, you’d see tiny structures containing even tinier parts.In the summer and winter, grass might turn brown or yellow. It’s still alive. It just doesn’t have as much chlorophyll. It isn’t putting as much energy into new growth.
All living things—you and grass included—are made of cells. Cells are like little building blocks with different jobs. Every blade of grass is made of millions of them.Chloroplasts have a special job: making food. Grasses can’t search for food like animals can. So instead they make it themselves, taking in sunlight and carbon dioxide. We purchased 2 gallon sized Totem Pole grasses. When planted and spaced about 5 ft apart from each other they are definitely STUNNING. Their upward growth and greenish/blueish tinge are a focal point for the backdrop of our patio. If you’re looking for a tall, blue hued, non flopping ornamental grass then go with Totem Pole. I have 4 of these already and just received 2 more. Extremely well packaged & great sized plants. Highly Recommend! (Switch Grass) If a tall columnar grass is what you are looking for, look no further than Panicum PRAIRIE WINDS® ‘Totem Pole’. ‘ Totem Pole’ stands 6 foot tall with a spread of 2.5 foot wide. This upright habit grass, has thick blue green foliage. In the fall the top erupts with golden seed panicles. With it tall upright habit, ‘Totem Pole’ is a perfect match for smaller gardens that need vertical interest. Ornamental grass add motion and interest to the garden or landscape. The very sturdy habit of Panicum ‘Totem Pole’ is a plus for areas that get lots of wind. Panicum a drought tolerant ornamental grass, are adaptable to almost any soil type from sand to clay. They are a heat loving perennial! Enjoy this easy to grow grass as a border, in mass, or a screen. Enjoy this native grass from spring through winter, we recommend trimming it back before the spring growth emerges. Panicum ‘Totem Pole’ a PROVEN WINNERS® Perennial. A mental image of a totem pole brings to mind a tall, narrow, majestic structure – the exact imagery to apply to this new ornamental grass! ‘Totem Pole’ forms a very upright column of steel blue foliage and powdery blue stems. In early fall, the top of the clump explodes with golden seed panicles. The narrow base of the plant makes it an ideal candidate for small spaces in the garden that need height and vertical structure. Warm Season Grasses: These grasses are much slower starting in the spring. They do not push new growth until temperatures warm in early to midsummer. They flower later in the summer or fall with most blooms remaining into the winter. Most warm season grasses tolerate heat, humidity and drought; some even thrive in these conditions. Switch grass gets its name from the peaceful swishing sound it makes when blowing in the wind. All parts of this grass are very sturdy, and will remain standing thru winter unless snows are heavy. This provides important cover for birds during the coldest days of winter. This grass is very versitile from a design standpoint; it is effective as a specimen, in masses, for screening, alongside ponds or streams, or even in large containers.