Panicum ornamental grass or Switch Grass is grown in our gardens as a hardy grass with fine foliage. It’s a versatile grass with mid-height and great fall flowers and seed pods. Good coloring and decent fall colors round out the mix. Here’s how to grow some interesting varieties:
- Full sunshine is best for this grass, this is not a grass that does particularly well in shade or part shade.
- Switch grass does like a well-drained soil but not one that is heavily fertilized. Excessive feeding will cause this grass to get tall and stringy, falling-over-ugly.
- Moderate moisture will keep it growing comfortably.
Gardeners in USDA zone 4 should have little trouble with this grass.
The easiest and most reliable is division in the spring.
While the species will come true from seed, hybrids will only come true from division.
All the ornamental varieties are hybrids of Panicum virgatum.
- ‘Heavy Metal’ (pictured) metallic blue foliage, red tips to foliage in fall, 4-6′ tall.
- ‘Prairie Sky’ arching mounds of bluish foliage, butter gold fall color, 3-4′ tall.
- ‘Shendandoah’ green leaves with red tips in summer, purplish red fall color, 2-3′ tall.
- ‘Warrior’ green summer upright foliage, red fall color, 4-6′ tall.
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There are seeds and plants of many species of Panicum here. Note that hybrids do not come true from seed – so if you see a named variety from above, only buy started plants and not seed.