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Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass)

Switch Grass, Switchgrass, Wand Panic Grass

Panicum Virgatum, Switch Grass, Switchgrass, Wand Panic Grass
Panicum Virgatum, Switch Grass, Switchgrass, Wand Panic Grass
Panicum Virgatum, Switch Grass, Switchgrass, Wand Panic Grass
Panicum Virgatum, Switch Grass, Switchgrass, Wand Panic Grass

A stately sight in the landscape, Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass) is a clump-forming perennial grass forming an erect-stemmed and narrow clump of bright green leaves throughout the growing season. From late summer to fall, the foliage is topped with a profusion of finely-textured, reddish-purple flower panicles which hover over the foliage like an airy cloud. They persist well into fall before eventually turning beige while the foliage turns a lovely bright golden-yellow shade in fall. Ground-feeding songbirds and game birds feast on the seeds. Like many North American prairie grasses, Switch Grass is a long-lived, warm-season grower. Quite sturdy, even when dry or dormant, it stands through winter (unless your area enjoys heavy snowfalls), providing essential cover for birds. Plant it as a backdrop for a flower garden, as a hedge or screen, or in a native garden.

  • Grows up to 3-6 ft tall (90-180 cm) and 2-3 ft. wide (60-90 cm). Will spread by underground rhizomes and seed – give it plenty of room.
  • Performs best in full sun in average, dry to moist, well-drained soils. Tolerates part shade, but will lose its upright form in too much shade and may fall over. Tolerates a wide range of soils, including dry soils, but prefers moist, sandy, or clay soils. Drought and wet soil tolerant.
  • Welcomed in any garden style, it is versatile and can be used in groups or en masse. It is ideal in borders where it provides texture, color, and contrast. Excellent choice for prairies and meadows, along ponds and streams, or in naturalized areas.
  • No serious insect or disease problems. Deer resistant.
  • Requires little maintenance except cutting back the old foliage to the ground in late winter to early spring.
  • Propagate by sowing unstratified seed in fall or stratified seed in spring.
  • Native to North America.

Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 11
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses
Plant Family Poaceae
Genus Panicum
Common names Switchgrass
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 3' - 6'
(90cm - 180cm)
Spread 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spacing 24" - 36"
(60cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, Southeast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Northeast, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, South Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, Missouri, Nebraska, Idaho, Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Dry Soil, Wet Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Bog Gardens, Hedges And Screens, Ponds And Streams, Rain Gardens
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Panicum amarum (Bitter Switchgrass)
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ (Switch Grass)
Panicum virgatum ‘Hanse Herms’ (Switch Grass)
Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ (Switch Grass)
Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’ (Switch Grass)

Recommended Companion Plants

Symphyotrichum laeve (Smooth Aster)
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (Aromatic Aster)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-Eyed Susan)
Solidago rugosa ‘Fireworks’ (Rough Goldenrod)
Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Great Ornamental Grasses for your Winter Garden
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 5 - 9
Heat Zones 1 - 11
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
Plant Type Ornamental Grasses
Plant Family Poaceae
Genus Panicum
Common names Switchgrass
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 3' - 6'
(90cm - 180cm)
Spread 2' - 3'
(60cm - 90cm)
Spacing 24" - 36"
(60cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Connecticut, Southeast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Northeast, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, South Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Minnesota, Ohio, Missouri, Nebraska, Idaho, Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Dry Soil, Wet Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Beds And Borders, Bog Gardens, Hedges And Screens, Ponds And Streams, Rain Gardens
Garden Styles Prairie and Meadow, Informal and Cottage
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Do I Need?
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