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Panicum (Switch Grass)
at Digging Dog

Including Panicum varieties Dewey Blue, Cape Breeze, Rehbraun, Northwind, and Trailblazer

Panicum

photo: Matt Lavin

Panicum

Switch Grass

The Panicums we’ve chosen are warm season prairie grasses native to North America. Resistant to heat, drought, and even extreme cold, Switch Grass boasts a cloud of inflorescences—a mystifying hologram of tiny red seeds that mature to black in late summer.

If grown en masse and not cut back until early spring, Panicums promise a lively winter show. After a frost, they stiffen and adopt the warm glowing color and soft rustling sound of wheat.


Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’  full sun
Bitter Switch Grass

Populating Delaware’s coastal sand dunes near the town of Dewey, noted grass expert, Rick Darke selected this kingly Panicum for its blue, oh-so-blue smooth glaucous blades and elegant fountainlike stance. Distinctive straight-up stems bolster light airy plumes, followed by caramel-colored seed heads persisting well into winter. ‘Dewey Blue’ is not only a stunning showman but an enduring workhorse whose slowly spreading rhizomes form clumps that are vital in stabilizing seashore ecosystems, as well as withstanding hot dry summers and varied garden soils.

Blooms August – October.

Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 3.

Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’ (G-0500)
Each $9.75
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Panicum virgatum ‘Cape Breeze’  full sun  new plant
Panicum virgatum Cape Breeze

Hats off to North Creek Nursery for this exceptional new Panicum that combines sensational good features with a brawny tough-as-nails temperament. Beneath copious gauzy looking amber-hued seed heads, trim ribbons of upright greenery retain their color ’til November, then transmute buttery yellow shades. Beloved by birds, butterflies, florists and horticulturalists, ‘Cape Breeze’ lauds early blooms plus a no-coddle compact habit, forbearing deer, disease, dry conditions and salt spray. (PP#24,895)

Blooms July–October

Size: 2' 0"–2-1/2' high x 20"–2' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.


Panicum virgatum ‘Cape Breeze’ (G-0565)
Each $9.75
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Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’  full sun
Tall Switch Grass

It’s not sky high, but ‘Cloud Nine’ does impart visions of grandeur as it rises into a massive, somewhat vase-shaped, blue-green form crowned by a mist of small inflorescences. Autumn brings golden tones to the foliage. This Panicum usually maintains its elegant shape through tough winter months, and is a dynamic partner with Salvia confertiflora for the rest of the season.

Blooms August–October.

Size: 6' 0"–8' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 4.

Panicum virgatum ‘Cloud Nine’ (G-0082)
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Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’  full sun
Blue Switch Grass
Panicum virgatum Heavy Metal

Stiff, upright blades of green turn metallic blue and then warm pecan brown in the fall. We are fond of this dynamic, vertical accenting grass in drifts with Teucrium fruticans ‘Azureum’.

Blooms September–October.

Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ (G-0021)
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Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’  full sun  new plant

Claiming the coveted 2014 Plant of the Year award, ‘Northwind’s roots can be traced back to the railroad tracks near South Elgin, Illinois, where Roy Diblik collected some native Panicum seeds. Selected from those initial seedlings for its unique unwavering stature, this dashing straight-backed cultivar unleashes a narrow sky-bound clump of broad olive-colored blades with bluish green undersides. Gossamer-textured inflorescences hover just above the leaves, characterized by tiny yellow flowers and purple seed heads. Unsung among ornamental grasses and the most markedly vertical of the Switch grasses, it lends intriguing winter architecture and possesses a dogged determination that triumphs over drought, heavy downpours, varied soil conditions, pesky deer and foliar rust.

Blooms August–October.

Size: 4' 0"–6' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 5.

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ (G-0544)
Each $9.75
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Panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Sky’  full sun
Blue Switch Grass

The bluest of the Panicums and hardiest of the virgatums, this superb selection was discovered growing wild in a Wisconsin meadow by Roger Gettig. Its silvery inflorescences have tiny rust-colored accents, and 'Prairie Sky's fast growing foliage spawns a cool blue fusion when associated with Yucca 'Sapphire Skies' and Eryngium 'Big Blue'.

Blooms July – October.

Size: 3' 0"–5' 0" high x 2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Panicum virgatum ‘Prairie Sky’ (G-0080)
Each $9.75
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Panicum virgatum ‘Rehbraun’  full sun

Prized for fantastic autumn color and impressive vertical accents, a narrow upstanding clump produces slender grayish green leaves that flaunt dark maroon and violet shades in late summer. The dreamy cloud of finely cut haze-like purple-green spikelets bleaches to beige and persists into winter, while the compact long-lived foliar column wears a buff-tinged cold-weather coat. Abiding drought, wet conditions, clay and erosion, this popular all-purpose native can enhance a stylized meadow or mixed planting, either massed or as a specimen, and hobnob with fellow natives like Eupatoriums and Helianthus 'Gold Lace'.

Blooms July–October

Size: 3' 0"–4' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 5.

Panicum virgatum ‘Rehbraun’ (G-0558)
Each $9.75
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Panicum virgatum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’  full sun

This exceptional vintage cultivar has withstood the test of time, touting the smallest, most upright foliar foundation with the brightest most enduring red blades of all our Panicum. Suave, fine textured silver-green blades, subtly blushed in late spring, ascend vertically and cushion a lovely diaphanous mass of branched pink-tinged flower panicles. “Red Ray Bush”, as it translates from German, begins broadcasting passionate fiery red foliage in August that ignites the late season border, while companions such as Aster ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, Sedum ‘Mr. Goodbud’ and Kniphofia ‘Yellow Cheer’ inject complementary color.

Blooms July–October.

Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 5.

Panicum virgatum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’ (G-0059)
Each $9.75
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Panicum virgatum ‘Ruby Ribbons’  full sun  new plant

Celebrating long lasting appeal and color galore, this exceptional Panicum ‘Heavy Metal’ and Panicum ‘Hänse Herms’ cross was selected by Dr. Mark Brand from the University of Connecticut. Fantastic arching ribbons of foliage initially emerge in soft gray-greens, then in early summer, transmute a vibrant wine-red, which heightens as the season progresses. Loosely arranged, broad tapered blades forge an upright textural clump renown for its unparalleled, richly hued fall finale, while hazy sand-colored inflorescences create winter interest, especially when overlaid with frost or snow (pp#17,944)

Blooms August–November.

Size: 3' 0"–4' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Panicum virgatum ‘Ruby Ribbons’ (G-0517)
SOLD OUT!
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Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’  full sun  new plant
Red Switch Grass

One of the best of the red Panicums, ‘Shenan­doah’ was selected from ‘Hänse Herms’ seedlings by Germany’s Hans Simon. The slender green leaves exhibit maroon hues in midsummer and, come September, are thoroughly transformed. Paired with Echinops ‘Arctic Glow’, the wine-infused theme is echoed, and backlit by the long light of late afternoon, the glow is ethereal.

Blooms August–October.

Size: 4' 0" high x 2' 0"–2-1/2' wide; hardy to zone 4.

Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ (G-0091)
Each $9.75
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Panicum virgatum ‘Trailblazer’  full sun

Selected from the native prairie grasses of the Midwest for its larger, showier seed heads, this graceful new cultivar has a long list of admirers, including several butterfly species. Sheer red-tinted flower clusters wave good-bye to summer as blue-green blades flaunt a blaze of old golds and maroons that promise to brighten your autumn and maintain a winter presence.

Blooms September – October.

Size: 4' 0"–5' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Panicum virgatum ‘Trailblazer’ (G-0076)
Each $9.75
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Panicum virgatum ‘Warrior’  full sun
Panicum virgatum Warrior

The cultivar name of this grass alludes to the blood red hues of the blades and to its strong growing power. Upright and arching, ‘Warrior’s inflorescences rise to 5 or 6 ft., as its red foliar hints intensify through the early season, turning deep reddish brown in late fall and eventually fading to the color of creamed honey. For an army of rosy color, plant with other grasses like Pennisetum orientale.

Blooms August–October.

Size: 5' 0"–6' 0" high x 2' 0"–3' 0" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Panicum virgatum ‘Warrior’ (G-0034)
Each $9.75
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Offering superb versatility, ornamental grasses become poetry in motion on gusty days. They are best situated so their fluid shimmering inflorescences, bathed in amber, sable or smoky rose and purple shades, are backlit and set aglow by the afternoon sunlight. Most look fantastic in fresh or dried arrangements, while others produce welcome seed heads that birds adore. Be sure to browse our online selections of ornamental grasses.

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You may wish to include one or more of these easily grown herbaceous perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs or trees that wield plenty of October flair.

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