Panicum virgatum Red Flame
Panicum  virgatum 'Red Flame' photo courtesy of Walters Gardens

Switch Grass

About This Grass

This warm season grass emerges with blue-green foliage before turning almost completely a striking wine red by summer's end. Compared with older varieties like 'Shenandoah', 'Red Flame' has a greater saturation of red colour on each leaf and incredible vigor. Use this grass for its colour, texture, and durability in the landscape.

Switch grass gets its name from the soft swishing sound it makes when blowing in the wind. All parts of this grass will remain standing thru winter unless snows are heavy. This provides important cover for birds during the coldest days of winter. This grass is very versatile from a design standpoint; it is effective as a specimen, in masses, for screening, alongside ponds or streams, or even in large containers.

  • Height: 91-107 cm (3-3.5 ft)
  • Spread: 61-76 cm (2-2.5 ft)
  • Cold Hardiness: Zone 4-9
  • Sun or Shade: full sun
  • Bloom Time: fall
  • Leaf Colour: green
  • Bloom Colour: red
  • Critter Resistance: deer
  • Nature Attraction: birds

Growing and Maintenance Tips

Panicum is a very easy native grass that is adaptable to a wide range of conditions. It prefers moist, fertile soil but will grow in any soil from sand to clay. It is drought tolerant once established. It will perform best in full sun, flopping over if it gets too much shade. It is tolerant of wind and salt making it a good choice for a more exposed site or an area that might be salted in the winter.


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