Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’

switch grass

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' is a beautiful ornamental grass selected for its red-toned foliage and graceful habit. It grows to about 4 feet tall and slightly wider, and its leaves arch and cascade, adding a graceful element to the garden. Initially the leaf blades are green and remain so in early summer. Then they develop deep red tips by late July. The show of color peaks with burgundy autumn color. 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 red switch grass 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.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: grass

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 4 ft. 0 in. (1.22 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 3 ft. 0 in. (0.91 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 to 8

Flower Color: brown

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun

Water Requirements: occasional watering

Seasonal Interest: autumn color

Resistant to: deer

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: red, orange, gold

Great Color Partners: dark green, blue, chartreuse

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.