Panicum virgatum ‘Rotstrahlbusch’

switch grass

Outstanding Qualities

Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch' is one of the best red-foliaged grasses for the landscape. It has a more compact habit and upright form than other switch grass selections, only growing to about 3 feet tall. The red tones on the leaf blades hold from early summer through fall, climaxing to rich crimson in autumn. This perennial, deciduous grass creates a fine-textured clump and is topped with a haze of beautiful burgundy seed heads in late summer. It is a well-behaved grass and will not seed around in the garden, making it an excellent substitute for the more aggressive spreading Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'). Mix with warm colors like orange and red, or go for a contrast with brilliant purples. It makes a good specimen but also creates a bold statement in a drift. It is a great companion for fall-blooming asters and sedums. The German cultivar name translates loosely as "red-ray-bush."

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: dark green, blue, cream

Great Color Partners: red, purple, bronze, gold

Culture Notes

Switch grass loves full sun and can tolerate hot spots. Plant it in well-drained or sandy soil and provide occasional watering during dry weather. Keep fertilizing to a minimum to prevent flopping in late summer. Once the fall color fades switch grass can be cut to the ground. It is slow to emerge in the spring, but grows robustly once the weather warms.

© Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Quick Facts

Plant Type: grass

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 3 ft. 0 in. (0.91 m.)

Plant Width/Spread: 2 ft. 0 in. (0.61 m.)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 8

Flower Color: brown

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun

Water Requirements: occasional watering