Botanical Name: Panicum virgatum
Common Name: Switch Grass  
Plant photo of: Panicum virgatum
Previous Photo     Next Photo

Water Saving Tip:

Even though it's hot, your lawn only needs to be watered twice a week to stay healthy.

And don't water the whole lawn for a brown spot—drag out a hose.

  • Anatomy

  • Culture

  • Design

Plant Type

Perennial, Grass


Height Range

3-6', 6-12'


Flower Color

Blue, Orange, Pink, Red


Flower Season

Summer, Fall


Leaf Color

Green, Blue Green


Bark Color



Fruit Color



Fruit Season








Growth Rate



Soil Type

Sandy, Clay, Loam


Soil Condition

Average, Rich, Well-drained


Soil pH



Adverse Factors


Design Styles

Formal, Meadow, Ranch


Accenting Features

Fall Color, Showy Flowers, Specimen


Seasonal Interest

Summer, Fall


Location Uses

Perennial Border, Shrub Border, Foundation, Patio, Raised Planter, Walls / Fences


Special Uses

Cut Flowers, Hedge, Small Spaces


Attracts Wildlife

Birds, Butterflies

Information by: Stephanie Duer
Photographer: Susan Frommer
  • Description

  • Notes

Switch grass is a north American native and an original component of the Midwestern Plains. It is a warm-season (it goes dormant during the winter) clumping grass with an upright form, interesting flowers, showy fall color, and a great winter presence. It grows from 4 to 7 feet tall and about half as wide, though in time may spread wider. Airy, delicate flowers appear in mid-summer, hanging along an arching, wiry stem, and are pink to red to orange. Foliage turns yellow to orange in the fall, and the flowers turn a silvery white. there are now many cultivars to choice from, and they all make excellent and low-care additions to perennial or shrub borders, or in more naturally styled settings.
Panicums are Plains' natives, and they require full sun and well drained soils. Will grow in clay. Over-fertilizing or over-watering will cause the grass to flop. Cut back in late winter, see Guides. No serious pest or disease problems. Though clumping, it may slowly spread by rhizomes, but is not considered invasive. Deer and rabbit resistant.