Nursery bed prep

donn_(7b-8a)February 24, 2005

I've just finished winter sowing 750+ plugs of over 50 varieties of ornamental grass. The plugs are bottomless plant bands, 3" deep x 1.5" square.

Soon after they germinate, the plugs will need to be planted out into nursery beds, or into larger bands, for their first year. I'm germinating the seeds on MiracleGro potting mix, but think I should plant them on into less hospitable soil.

Reading back through the archives, I get the impression that I should just scrape the sod off of the worst part of the lawn, and plant them straight into un-doctored soil. In my case, that would be sandy, fairly acid soil. I can go anywhere from that extreme, up to pure compost nursery beds.

I also have 3" and 4" square plant bands that are plenty deep. I have topsoil/compost 50/50 mix, or I can lean it out with less compost.

Suggestions? Ideas?

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dereks(6 Utah)

Hi Donn. I see your posts quite often on the winter sowing forum. 750 plugs of grass? What do you intend to do with them all? I love your enthusiasm of grasses because they are my favorite of all plants. Unfortunately my yard is quite small so I have a limited number of grasses. I have them growing in sandy soil and I mean pure sand. The grasses grow like mad. They seem to love the poor soil. (mine is more alkaline) I water twice a week. The grasses I have are.
Miscanthus 'malepartus', 'sarabande', 'giganteus', 'gracillimus' and 'adagio'. I also have two pennisetums that I don't know the name of. One pink muhly grass and one little bue stem 'the blues'.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 10:00PM
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Teesnotes(9b, CA)

750 plugs, that excites me. I do hope to be doing the same thing soon. I am still trying to learn what I can from everybody. Can you suggest a good place to get the seeds?

Thank you, Tee

    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 1:35AM
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Dereks..I have no idea where I'll put them all. If they all germinate, and form strong plugs, I'm in trouble. I'm going to experiment. I'll pot some up as individual plugs, just to measure how fast they grow to, say, gallon pot size. Others will be planted out in clumps of plugs.

Tee..The best commercial selection of OG seeds I've found is Most other seed sellers carry at least some varieties. There's a wide variety available on the seed exchanges, but I've found that there is a lot of bogus, immature, and non-viable seed being offered. Also a lot of stuff being offered with a description only.

I hope some of the experts pitch in with ideas on proper nursery bed composition for these things.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jelitto

    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 10:08AM
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jbcarr(7 VA)

If they are for your property, just use native soil. If you grow all of them, with lots of leftovers, sounds like a new E-Bay business is in store for you!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 9:55AM
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The first sprouters appeared today...Briza maxima!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 4:31PM
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Festuca glauca made it's appearance today!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2005 at 6:30PM
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More sprouts!

Festuca mairei
Anthoxanthum odoratum
Briza media

    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 6:46AM
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That's awesome, Donn!! I just love that moment when you realize your plants are not only going to live, but thrive (and not die a slow, agonizing death due to soil, water, temperature issues).

Enjoy! :)


    Bookmark   March 23, 2005 at 11:31AM
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Festuca scoparia joins the ranks of sprouters.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2005 at 9:16AM
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First warm season sprouter is Cortaderia selloana.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2005 at 4:26PM
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dereks(6 Utah)

I would love to grow pampas grass. I tried one year and sure enough it didn't make it. I have heard 'pumila' is hardy to zone 6 so I'm thinking of trying it. The problem is, I don't have enough space for a big plant like that.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 9:53AM
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Raney10(z7 TN)

Hi Donn. Congrats on the sprouting of your grasses. I should think you are going to need a very large nursery prepared with lots of compost, my fav is mushroom. The 3 or 4" bands with 50/50 mix sounds like a winner to me since that wouldn't require any spading.
Of course you have a few weeks to prepare for that so perhaps do some both ways.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2005 at 3:41PM
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More sprouts:

Muhlenbergia capillaris
Pennisetum alepcuroides 'Moudry'

    Bookmark   April 8, 2005 at 1:39PM
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April has been a good month for grass sprouts. Since my last report, we have:

Carex muskingumensis
Chasmanthium latifolium
Festuca gigantea
Luzula nivea
Luzula sylvatica
Miscanthus sinensis 'New Hybrids'
Millium effusum 'Aureum'
Nassella tenuissima
Seslaria caerulea
Stipa capillata

And these unknowns from the seed exchanges:

"Grass, tall and feathery"
Pennisetum?? "Dwarf Fountain Grass"

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 8:11AM
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AgastacheMan(z7 CA)

I grow ornamental grasses by seed plugs and field divisions, and I always use a fir/peat/perlite mix after the plugs have grown. I never used MiracleGro soils, as to the heavy nutrients can pose a problem later on. So people though have had great potential as using that mix, but I have been using my mix for years and never have over green growth and lanky problems. Let me know if you have problems later on with any of your plugs, because I could help.....Also, a potassium supplement like Kelp or fish emulsion higher in Potassium will help with root development and immune system health. The grasses I grow are the following:
Anemanthele lessiona
Briza media
Chasmanthium latifolium
Dechampsia "Shottland" and "Northern Lights"
Eragrostis trichoides
Eragrostis spectabilis
Festuca amethysina "Superba
Festuca "Meerblau"
Miscanthus sinensis
Miscanthus s. "Purpurascens"
M. "Rottsilber"
M. "Flamingo"
M. "Adagio"
Muhlenbergia dumosa
Muhlenbergia capillaris
M. c. "Regal Mist"
Panicum virgatum
P. v. "Dallas Blues"
P. v. "Shenandoah"
P. v. "Cloud Nine"
P. v. "Heavy Metal"
Sorghastrum nutans
Sorghastrum n. "Sioux Blue"

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 8:19PM
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A-man...I'd love to hear more about your procedures, unless they're professional secrets.

I'm using MiracleGro because it worked so well last year, which was my first year of winter sowing and spring sowing. I have no idea what "over green growth and lanky problems" is, but since I'm new to this, I'm open for suggestions.

I assume that most of the named cultivars on your list are divisions of plants that you bought? Tell me about that. How many plugs can you get out of a 1-gallon plant? How do you do it?

I have a million questions, but I'll go slowly.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 9:00PM
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AgastacheMan(z7 CA)

The only reason why I say I don't use MiracleGro soils is because during the fall, I do alot of dividing and planting up of seed plugs and I don't need very rich and nutrient high soils. My feeding regiment hits in Spring, the first grasses being cool season growers and then in late Spring, the warm season growers. As for the cultivar list, I have bought plugs trays twice, and thats all I have needed to buy in to have propagated from, unless its a patent variety (P.v. Dallas Blues for example), then I do need to pay a royalty. And to answer the lanky or over-green growth question, I say that because a lot of commercial soils now have a 3 or 5 month feeding thrown into the soil, and that is not the approach to propagating and cultivating ornamental grasses. If the soil is higher in nitrogen for instance, you will receive a growth spurt that is droopy and may pose as a seasonal problem when it comes to a mature plant. Many big grasses like Miscanthus, Panicum, Andropogon, and Cortaderia, too much nitrogen will not enable the grass to form sturdy blade and stock, and eventually a weak crown. Now, the other question to how many plugs you can get out of a gallon plant? It really depends on the grass unfortunately, because there is not set amount for each grass is differen't. For instance, Miscanthus "Rottsilber" in a gallon pot grown for one year from a plug will yield two to four divisions maybe. If the plant is grown in a gallon pot for one year, and then lanted in the ground for one more year, I will yield up to 12 or 13 divisions, but then the division start all over again in terms of time and cultivation. If there are any other questions, I would be happy to answer them.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 11:50AM
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Thanks, A-Man. Very interesting. I've been considering ordering plugs from Green Mountain, since they're in my corner of the country. They'll mix-and-match a "32" sized (2.75" dia. X 3" deep) flat, and their prices range from $2/plug for common stuff, to $6/plug for Hakone. Add $7.50 per flat for freight. I won't do it this year, because I have too many of my seed-grown stuff to deal with, but I'm curious about a lot of the grasses that I can't grow from seed.

Seed sources. Most of my seed has come from Jellito and Plantation. I'm also familiar with OutsidePride, which doesn't have Jellito's breadth of variety. Can you provide any other sources?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 2:35PM
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