Panicum virgatum

Latin Name: Panicum virgatum
Common Name: Switchgrass
Mature Height (ft): 4-6'
Mature Width: 2-3'

Mature Shape

Upright bunch grass.
Mulch: Organic or inorganic.

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Switchgrass is one of the best native ornamental grasses of our tall prairies. Switchgrass forms upright bunches of wide 1/2 inch green blades, with open pale purple inflorescence arising another 2 feet in late summer to fall. Switchgrass will thrive with every other week supplemental irrigation. There are many varieties of switchgrass, 'Prairie Sky' is the most drought tolerant (low, xeric) with blue blades. Other fine selections are 'Heavy Metal' with metallic lavender blue foliage turning reddish towards fall, and 'Shenandoah' with leaf blades tipped in red. All switchgrass will grow taller and wider with more rainfall or irrigation. Switchgrass is a warm season grass.

Use in Garden

A fine ornamental bunch grass for either the low or medium water-use bed or border for great summer, fall and winter interest. Plant singly or in groups or drifts. Good habitat grass.


Cut back in late winter to about 2-3 inches from its base, before new growth emerges. Topdress with 1 inch compost spring and fall.