Switching out a switchgrass

I've got two forms of switchgrass, panicum virgatum. I've got 'Heavy Metal' which does really well for me, and 'Prairie Sky', which has not done well. 'Prairie Sky' is supposed to be similar to 'Heavy Metal' but taller and more upright, but it's been a floppy, weak plant for me grown in full sun for three years. The 'Heavy Metal' is in a bamboo bed and has to go this year, so the 'Prairie Sky' is going to be removed and replaced with 'Heavy Metal'. Here's the winner ('Heavy Metal') which will be moved:

And this is the loser ('Prairie Sky') which will be removed:


I'll pot up some 'Prairie Sky' and give it a chance again someday, but right now it's time to dig. You want to have the hole ready for the plant you'll be moving, so I'll start by taking chunks out and putting them in the wheelbarrow:

I'm trying to keep them small enough to pot up or temporarily transplant, but they're still pretty large. Continuing on until the whole thing is out. It's important to get all of the pieces that are around the perimeter of the hole too, or they'll keep growing and may eventually mix in with the new grass.

Now on to the 'Heavy Metal'. Pretty much the same process. (You can see that the 'Heavy Metal' has broken dormancy earlier than 'Prairie Sky')

I think I feel some bamboo rhizomes under there, or maybe it's just the hard, woody mass of roots that starts forming -- this has been here for four years or more, so it's well-established. I've already taken several divisions from it over the years.

The roots are actually going under the driveway.

I tried to get a bigger rootball by going a little deeper since this is the division I'll be planting in the new hole and I want it to be as vigorous as possible right away.

See, I had a feeling some rhizomes were sneaking under the grass!

So here's the plant in its new hole as I check the depth of the hole and that the plant is as upright as possible:

And here it is all planted. Once I got it in the hole I decided that I could fit another division too, which means a larger patch faster, plus less of a hole to fill with soil. Since I have to dig some soil from another part of my yard, less soil means much less work.

It's hard to plant level here, as the bed is on a slope. I did my best though, and I hope the plant likes this location. If it doesn't do as well here as it did in its old spot I'll know that something is wrong with the soil. I'm hoping it does just as well here though.

Seems kind of strange to be digging out one plant and replacing it with what is essentially the same plant, but I'm hoping it's an improvement.

This job took me about one hour.

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