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Switchgrass Panicum virgatum

Growing Switchgrass: Tips at a Glance

Use airy, golden switchgrass in meadows or native plant gardens or in a row for a feathery screen or hedge. As a specimen, switchgrass is an excellent substitute for Miscanthus.

  • Type Ornamental grass
  • Lifespan Perennial
  • USDA Zones 4-9
  • Light Sun
  • Soil Not picky
  • Where to plant Meadows, hedges
  • Design Tip Prairie favorite
  • Companions Black-eyed Susan
  • Peak Season Gold tinge in autumn

Switchgrass: A Field Guide

It is hard to envision these days what 250 million acres of open grassland once looked like, rippling across the great North American prairie and disappearing into the horizon at what must have looked like the edge of the earth.

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is one of the four main types of hardy prairie grasses that once covered much of the continent—and is an excellent choice if you want to add airy perennial grasses to your own landscape.

Switchgrass, along with little bluestem, big bluestem and Indian grass, are the prairie tallgrasses that thrive in trouble spots in various climates and regions. They will grow on dry slopes, in forests with both deciduous and coniferous trees, and on damp slopes alongside streams, marhes, and rivers.  In a garden setting, switchgrass will require little or no maintenance once it’s established, thanks to its long tap roots (which grow to 9 feet) and ability to withstand harsh sun, wind, and soil conditions ranging from heavy clay to powdery gravel.

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Planting, Care & Design of Switchgrass

More About Switchgrass