En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Thicken clumps of Panicum virgatum in Stafford VA

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - July 22, 2009

From: Stafford, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Thicken clumps of Panicum virgatum in Stafford VA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am growing Panicum Virgatum varieties that will be transplanted in September to form a Native American maze project. I have given the quart size starts a root fertilizer when I planted them to try to help them along as I grow them out. They were extremely root bound. Now I am very curious if it is possible to help them girth up and become thicker clumps? The varieties I have chosen 'Cloud Nine' and North Wind' should grow to six feet or more which is great for height but is there something I can do to stimulate thicker clumps?

ANSWER:

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass) - perennial, 3 to 6 ft. tall, medium water use, sun or part shade, native to Virginia.

From Condition Comments on our webpage for this plant:

"Switchgrass is a clump-forming, warm-season grass. It has finely textured, reddish-purple seedheads. It tolerates seasonal poor drainage, making it a good choice for a dry creek bed or rain garden. Before new foliage emerges fresh from the base in spring, many gardeners prefer to cut back old vegetation to six inches above ground. Flower panicles are open, airy and delicate making it a very attractive accent plant in a garden or meadow."

'Cloud Nine' and 'North Wind' are likely trade names give to named selections of the plant, and should have the same characteristics as the original.  Patience is probably the way to stimulate thicker clumps. Since it is a clump-forming grass, you know it's going to do that sooner or later. You mentioned that the plants were very root bound, and we assume you are cultivating them in pots preparatory to replanting in the soil? If that is the case, we would suggest breaking up the clumps when you plant them in their permanent spot. These smaller clumps could then be planted fairly close together and would pretty quickly form a thicker body. If they are already in the ground, we would recommend leaving them alone, trimming them in late Winter, and let them do their thing. 

This website from Floridata, Panicum virgatum, gives considerably more information about this plant. Give attention particularly to the cautions about avoiding over-fertilizing, especially with high-nitrogen fertilizers.


Panicum virgatum

Panicum virgatum

Panicum virgatum

Panicum virgatum

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Wildflower meadow for birds
September 19, 2008 - I put in a wildflower feed plot for the song birds 3 years ago. We prepared the bed by first using Round Up to kill all the grass then lightly tilled to scratch the surface and planted the wildflower ...
view the full question and answer

Illinois native grasses for shade
June 27, 2013 - Hello, my grass has died in a very shady area (standard buffalo grass), and I took this as an opportunity to plant some native grass varieties. I originally thought of buffalo grass, but learned that ...
view the full question and answer

Sun requirement for native turf grasses
May 25, 2011 - What are the sun requirements needed for the native grass seed mix you recently released? I have a pretty well shaded back yard. Will this stuff grow well in this condition?
view the full question and answer

Assessment of Turffalo variety of buffalo grass (Bouteloua dachtyloides)
March 05, 2008 - Dear Mr.Smarty Plants, Now its March 2008, and your trial installation of Turfallo has had a year to prove itself; I'm interested to know your opinion of Turfallo Grass. There are such good e-c...
view the full question and answer

Looking for source of Carex texensis in Beaumont, TX
May 11, 2012 - Looking for Carex texensis, the only place I find it is in Tennessee or North Carolina. Should I buy it online from those places to put in Beaumont, TX?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center