Progress report on M. sinensis 'New Hybrids' from seed.

donn_(7b-8a)December 14, 2004

I sowed the seeds (from Park's) in mid-May, and transplanted 4x4x4" clumps, in plant bands, in mid-July, both in containers and in ground. Plants in each location doubled in circumference and reached 3' in foliage and 4' in plume height.

I've isolated the two easiest hybrids, because one bloomed in August, and the other didn't start blooming until November. The plumes and seeds are decidedly different. The early bloomer's plume is powdery and twisted, while the late bloomer is tassle-like. The early has a beige plume and seed and the late has reddish plumes. One of them (can't tell which yet) goes thru a very red foliage stage in late fall.

I have about a dozen clumps of various sizes, and am getting quite a bit of seed, so I'll be sowing both individual hybrids and mixed clumps this winter and spring. The mixed clumps that I grew this year are really fascinating, with the variety of bloom times and different plumes (is there another word for these?). I don't remember any difference in the seed as it came from Park's, but it was well cleaned and the stuff I've gathered is in the seed carrier, fuzz and all.

For Miscanthus fans out there, I came across the article linked below. It's 4-5 years old, but it's a fascinating look at Miscanthus hybridization in Europe, for the purpose of non-food biomass production (Silver Grass as fuel!?!). A good read.

Here is a link that might be useful: EMI - European Miscanthus Improvement

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John_Blakeman(z5/6 OH)

There is a growing and legitimate concern about Miscanthus hybrids in the US. Most of the common Miscanthus cultivars in the trade, such as Morning Light, Gracillimus, and the like, are not able to produce viable seed in the North, as the growing season is not long enough. Secondly, and this relates to hybridization, it appears that the cultivars are probably self-infertile. They require pollen from a different genetic parent.

The consequences of all of this are significant. If Miscanthus hybrids are grown that annually produce viable seed, this aggressive Asian grass will invade American wetlands and other suitable habitats and take over, a grass purple loosestrife, as it were.

I breed and select native grasses, and I also have about a dozen Miscanthus cultivars in my beds. In recent years IÂve noticed a few "volunteer" Miscanthus plants popping up on my property where they were never planted. These have the potential of escaping and becoming a major ecological disaster. You better bet that each of these will be nailed with glyphosate next May. IÂm also distributing all of my Miscanthus cultivars to appropriate public gardens and arboreta  but only where they will be widely separated and unable to naturally hybridize.

Yes, Miscanthus is a beautiful ornamental grass. And purple loosestrife is a beautiful marsh wildflower. But beauty doesnÂt preclude ecological aggressiveness.

I understand that Miscanthus has already escaped in parts of the South. We donÂt need the species messing up native meadows and marshes anywhere else. DonÂt be eager to hybridize this species. This is playing with ecological fire.

ÂJohn Blakeman

    Bookmark   December 14, 2004 at 9:13PM
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Thanks for the warning, John, but I'm not sure you could call what I'm doing "hybridizing." 'New Hybrids" is one of a few commercial mixes of hybrid Miscanthus, including 'Early Hybrids' and 'Late Hybrids.' I'm simply starting with a mix, and isolating seed from the different constituents of the mix. I will, however, be on the lookout for volunteers. I'm getting ready to start some Spartina seed that I gathered locally, and have to watch it for invasiveness as well, but since I live on the edge of a huge salt marsh, I expect I'll find that I'm acting as a nursery for other marsh grasses as well.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2004 at 5:59AM
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Donn: Did the seed you sowed have the general name M. sinensis 'New Hybrid' or did it have a more specific name? Did you use a special modified potting soil or planting medium rather than your natural soil to propagate your seeds? It's hard for me to believe that a seed would sprout and grow that quickly into such a large sized grass plant in one growing season under normal wild type growing conditions in NY. If it does grow that quickly and aggressively, producing viable seeds, I would agree with John that we do not need another grass like Phragmites to modify the existing ecology of meadows and wetlands. I would also doubt whether the esthetic beauty of this 'New Hybrid' grass is superior to any existing, less aggressively growing M. sinesis hybrids. Ed

    Bookmark   December 15, 2004 at 9:57PM
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Ed..they seeds were started in bottomless plant bands, 12 seeds to a cell, in MiracleGro Potting Mix (soilless medium with ferts and H2O retention).

Here's what the clumps looked like in early August, shortly after they went out:

(click image to enlarge)

This is what they looked like in early November:

(click image to enlarge)

I left them in the plant bands longer than normal, and they developed really full root masses, then, when they hit the real soil, they exploded.

The seeds are called Miscanthus Sinensis 'New Hybrids' I got them from Park's, but Jellito also sells them, along with M.s.'Early Hybrids' and M.s.'Late Hybrids.' As explained above, they appear to be a blend of different varieties, at least in terms of bloomtime and plume color.

I don't know yet, if the seed is viable. I'm going to give some of it the paper towel test in a few days, to see if they germinate. If they do, I'll wintersow some early next year, and then spring sow some like last spring. I wintersowed several different grasses last winter, and had mixed results. Sweet Vernal Grass, Festuca Glauca 'Select,' Pennisetum alopecuroides and Chasmanthium latifolium had results comparable to the Miscanthus; growing to nice sizes and (except for Festuca) blooming in their first year. Others, like Luzula nivea, Panicum virgatum and Briza media, grew much more slowly, and presented only 1' high clumps, with no blooming.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2004 at 6:26AM
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That grass in the picture looks like Eulalia new hybrid. I planted this grass two years ago, it does grow very fast,the first year it grow to 4 1/2 to 5 feet with alot of plumes. I plant about 10 plants none have reseeded. I got the seeds from parkseed the number is item 1365. Were very happy with it looks good and stands up well. Going to split a few this spring reee

    Bookmark   December 30, 2004 at 10:10PM
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It's the same stuff, reee, and I agree, it's a very nice looking grass. I'm looking forward to it's second year.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2005 at 11:31AM
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I just found this thread doing a search on eulalia grass new hybrid for I just bought 4 packets from parks hoping to create a screen .I am really happy because it sounds like it grows really well and I made a good choice.I am gonna buy some potting soil and have pots ready for the seeds when they come.You say 12 seeds is a good number per pot.What is a plant band ? Do you fertilize the grass ?
Heidi S~

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 10:39AM
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Heidi..a plant band is a square starter pot made from file folder-like paper. They have no bottoms, and sit in a mesh-bottom flat while the seedlings grow. Roots are air-pruned by the open bottom, and they form very nice root mass. I made a mistake in the first post. The bands I used were 3 x 3" and 3.5" deep. ~12 seeds to a cell, sown on the surface and kept moist until germination. This was done outdoors, in May.

The original potting mix has ferts in it, but other than that, they only get a drink of anaerobic compost tea a couple of times a year.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 1:02PM
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The M.s.'New Hybrids' that I wintersowed last year, set viable seed. The first sprouts happened today.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 12:00PM
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Hi, Donn, this was extremely helpful all these years later as I'm going to try some miscanthus either Early or Late Hybrids this spring. My only question since I can't see the pics: How far apart did you space your bands to get them to such a nice size in one year?

I may try starting them indoors under lights in the greenhouse a month or two earlier than you did, to hopefully get a longer season of growth--maybe in slightly larger plant bands, too?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 1:03PM
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Hi lovesblooms,

The hosting site must have gone belly up. Here are the photos again:

Early August (8 clumps on the right):

Early November:

Each clump grew from 12 seeds in a 4" square plant band.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 12:22PM
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Oh, okay, great--thank you for reposting the pictures, too! Were those moved further apart later as they grew?

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 1:09PM
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They were moved to another nursery bed right after I took that about 4' intervals. Then, after 2 years, some were moved to display bed locations, while the others remained in the nursery bed as backups.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:50PM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

If John is right then, it is sad that something so beautiful as Miscanthus might turn out to be a threat to our natural areas.
Donn, you may have missed John's point -
A bunch of HYBRID seed was in that envelope.
You (& others) are buying, sowing & planting 'new hybrids'.
By planting several of these plants together you are giving the grasses the opportunity to ...... hybridize.
My experience in my old zone 5 garden, growing numerous Miscanthus sinensis cultivars in close proximity was .... they do self-sow and the 'babies' are QUITE successful!
There is an excellent article that you should all read before planting more Miscanthus seed mixtures.- Maybe Parks & Jelleto aren't doing us any favors ..... :o(

Here is a link that might be useful: Miscanthus, ornamental & invasive grass By Mary Hockenberry Meyer

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 9:09AM
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A...this thread is nearly 10 years old. I stopped growing 'New Hybrids' 5 years ago, primarily because it self-sowed with such abandon.

That said, it volunteered only in garden beds and containers. I saw and have seen no evidence of it 'escaping' cultivation. That would tell me its cross-pollination didn't lead to reversion to species.

There still appears to be little, if any evidence of invasive growth of Miscanthus sinensis cultivar reversions. The preponderance of evidence is the invasive stands of M.s. is species, and stem from ornamental plantings of the species over 100 years ago.

I get volunteer M.s. every year, in small quantities in my gardens. The most prolific appears to be from 3 copies of 'Gracillimus' which are well isolated from my other varieties, but are in my front yard, and susceptible to cross pollination from the approximately 25 different varieties of M.s. being grown by my neighbors. Not a single one of these volunteers has been a reversion, but bore extremely close resemblance to 'Gracillimus.' A few have exhibited much finer foliage, and I've kept these in nursery beds in the back yard to keep an eye on them. They, like ~80% of my ornamental grasses, get dead-headed every fall.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 4:21PM
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achnatherum(z4or3 Ontario)

My bad Donn ..... I really should have looked at the original post date.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 10:11AM
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