Giant Grass Wildlife Habitat, Landscaping & Privacy Barrier
Giant Miscanthus (Miscanthus x giganteus), is a warm-season perennial grass with its origins rooted in Southeast Asia. Giant Miscanthus is a hybrid of the two ornamental grasses, M. sacchariflorus and M. sinensis. This sterile hybrid is high
yielding with many benefits to the land including soil stabilization and carbon sequestration. Vegetative propagation methods are necessary since giant Miscanthus does not produce viable seed. It produces new shoots annually which on average are 3/8” in diameter, with a 4” average cluster spread. Because it is sterile, it is propagated by rhizome division. This crop is established by planting rhizomes, which are cut into about 4 inches in length. This cold hardy grass is a rapidly growing grass even though it has a very little nutrient requirement while still producing high yields. Miscanthus Giganteous is a non-invasive grass that can be easily controlled due to its non-fruit dropping seeds.
A giant Miscanthus stand first begins with field seedbed preparation. To provide good soil to rhizome contact, the seedbed should be tilled to a 3- to 5-inch depth. Soil moisture is critical to a proper establishment for early stage germination. If working with dry land, prepare your field just prior to planting for optimal soil moisture. Good soil contact is also critical, so conversely, don’t till when the land is wet and clods will form. Giant Miscanthus does not have high nutrient requirements once established but fields last for 20-30 years, so it is important that adequate nutrition be present at establishment.
Currently, we only recommend spring planting of giant Miscanthus in the upper Midwest, and it should be timed similarly to soybean planting. When soil temperatures have reached 60º F and the probability of a spring frost is low, it is time to plant. Though Miscanthus can be planted as late as June, late planting leaves less time for the plant to develop a strong rhizome system to see it through the winter. Do not plant after July 1 without irrigation.
Rhizomes are overwinter storage organs that can also be used to grow new plants, similar to potatoes. Traditionally, new giant Miscanthus fields have been propagated by digging rhizome segments from ‘mother fields,’ a labor-intensive process best done on sandy soils with specialized equipment. Rhizomes can be harvested from a dormant field of giant Miscanthus, typically any Giant Miscanthus Establishment time after the first frost in the fall and before the last one in the spring. If not immediately replanted in a new field, they should be kept moist and cool (37-40º F) in storage. Ideal rhizomes have two to three visible buds, are light colored, and firm. Smaller rhizomes or those that are soft to the touch will likely have lower emergence.
Deer Habitat and cover
Miscanthus makes an excellent habitat for deer and other animals. Hedge screening is a great tool when looking for an advantage in the woods. This screening allows for systematic planting of a cover to be grown in the same spot every year. When planting be sure to leave plenty of room in between the hedges for grasses to grow along with food plots. We have found that it is preferred to plant on a strong curve to add plenty of privacy within the hedges. By leaving room this allows two things to happen. One lush grass and or food plots can grow. And two this gives the whitetail deer safety and concealment when foraging. Another great form of cover is planting along roadsides for roadside screening and field division. Another idea is for screening you parking area to limit the amount of eyes watching you as prepare for the hunt. Next is miscanthus ability to create cover to the stand growing 12 foot high has its advantages. A little bit of field planting can also promote bedding areas where traditionally there are none.
Home landscape benefits
Miscanthus is considered the high-speed train in the landscaping arena. When compared to other grasses it outperforms them in time and size. By having the ability to grow quickly without sacrificing any of its height qualities this allows you to see the results within one growing season. Miscanthus is among the fastest growing pricy screen on the market today. By systematically planting rhizomes that are non-invasive nor fruit dropping there is little maintenance to keep this landscaping wonder in check.
Individually vs. Cluster Planting
The main advantage of planting individual rhizomes is cost and its use of mechanized machinery when planting. A single rhizome in bulk offers greater cost savings when planting large acreage. Planting one-year-old clusters generally require digging individual holes, which increase your labor cost. The main advantage of planning a cluster is that you gain one year of full establishment thus being “height” while two years instead of three.
Keeping rhizomes fresh until planting
Each bag has a scoop of peat moss for moisture control. Rhizomes can be stored easily for two weeks in a refrigerator or in a basement. The cold does slow down growth.
Establishing a Hedge Row
We suggest the following planting pattern to establish a hedge row/screen. The individual rhizomes should be planted in a double line. Each line would be 18" apart with the rhizomes planted down these lines also 18" apart, staggered (See diagram below). Planting another line of rhizomes on the hedgerow will provide thicker screen coverage at a faster pace.
The individual rhizomes should be planted 3-4" deep, horizontally with nothing above the ground. A well-tilled bed does help the roots establish quicker, but is not necessary. More importantly, adequate moisture but not soaking wet (damp), and 60° ground temperature will promote growth. Do not worry so much about grass competition, but more so with broadleaf weeds that block sunshine, just during the first year of establishment. Second-year growth will outpace everything.
The first year growth of an individual rhizome is 2-3 stalks, 3-4' tall. The second year you get an average of 7 stalks, 6-7' tall, and the third year the cluster's diameter will be approximately 14", with about 25 stalks at full height (11'+). By the fourth year, two rhizomes planted 18" apart will grow into each another. Slower spread with heavy soil (clay) and a little faster spread with sandy loam.
It is not necessary at the end of the year to cut down the dead stalks. The heaviest new growth is always on the outside circumference of the cluster. You may choose to let the dead stalks accumulate for the first 3 to 4 years to screen faster. In a mature row (4 years on), it does benefit growth to remove dead stalks in the spring every other year.
For Plant Hardiness Zone Map, click here.
This product is sold as a 7 lbs parcel containing approximately 125 rhizomes which will plant about 190 feet at 18-inch spacing. Shipping is included in the price.
Shipping Dates are weather dependent, but we should ship to you near April 15th or May 15th depending on your location.
If you are interested in larger quantities, please contact our home office during regular business hours.
(International guests click here).