Saturday, July 24, 2010

Switch Grass

Grasses native to grasslands in North America that also make excellent ornamental plants. Extremely hardy; the roots may penetrate as deep as 10 feet into the soil. They can be cut down to 8 inches in height during winter - do not cut lower since you will be removing the plants insulation from extreme cold.
Deer resistant.

* photo taken on July 30 2013 in Grand Bend, Ontario

* photo taken on Oct 17 2013 in Howard Co., MD


Panicum amarum ( Bitter Panicgrass )
A rhizomatous perennial grass, reaching up to 8 feet in height, that is native to coastal sand dunes in central and eastern North America ( from Texas to Cape Cod, Massachusetts; south to Northeastern Mexico to south Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba ). It is also native to a few inland locales including northwest New Mexico, central Alabama, central North Carolina, southeast Virginia, central West Virginia and northwest Pennsylvania ). The extensive root system up to 6 feet deep, makes this grass an ideal choice for dune stabilization projects.
The leaf blades are up to 20 x 0.5 inches in size.
The flower panicles are up to 32 x 7 inches in size.

* USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database


'Atlantic'

* Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.


'Dewey Blue' ( Dewey Blue Switch Grass )
Native to coastal areas of the U.S. from Louisiana to Connecticut.
Reaches up to 6.2 x 6.5 ( rarely over 4 ) feet with bright blue powdery blue foliage that turns to yellow during autumn.
The flower panicles are bluish, turning to tan-brown during late summer into autumn.
Thrives in full sun to partial shade and is tolerant of both wet and dry conditions. Hardy zones 2 to 9 in full sun to partial shade.

Panicum virgatum ( Switch Grass )
A vigorous, large clumping, rhizomatous grass with foliage reaching up to 5 x 5 feet or 7 ( rarely 10 ) feet in height while in bloom and native to North America ( from Wyoming to southern Saskatchewan to southern Manitoba to Kenora, Ontario to Thunder Bay, Ontario to Manitoulin Island to Petawawa, Ontario to southeast Quebec to Nova Scotia; south to Mexico to Florida ). It was an important part of our original tall grass prairie ecosystem in the Great Plains. In the Windsor/Essex County, Ontario region it was rare before the mass deforestation of the late 1800s, except for the east beach of Point Pelee where it was very abundant on open sand. It was also common on the Lake Erie Islands and the Ohio shore. The Switch Grass is attractive even dried during the winter. They typically have green foliage though some of the cultivars are blue.
The flat leaves, are up to 36 x 0.6 inches in size, turning yellow or often reddish in autumn.
The abundant, feathery inflorescences are borne late summer into autumn.
Hardy zones 3 to 8 in full sun and very easy to grow on any moist, fertile soil, even tolerating the most horrendous clay. The root system may penetrate as deep as 10 feet, allowing the Switch Grass to tolerate severe drought. Drought, wind and salt tolerant ( excellent for seashore locations ). Deer and rabbit resistant.

* photos taken on Sep 16 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Aug 5 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Sep 2 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on July 18 2016 in Grand Bend, ON

* photos taken on Aug 20 2016 @ Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD


'Blue Tower'
A huge clone, upright in habit, reaching 8 feet, with intensely blue-green foliage.
The narrow foliage turns to golden-yellow during autumn.
The purplish-green flower plumes are borne during early autumn.

'Cheyenne Sky'
Compact with tight, vase-shape habit, reaching a maximum size of 5 x 4 ( rarely over 3 ) feet.
The blue-green ( tinged purple ) foliage turns intense deep-red in fall.
The purplish-red flower plumes are borne late summer into early autumn.

'Cloud Nine' ( Giant Blue Switch Grass )
Forms a strong growing, massive clump of foliage reaching up to 8 x 8 feet topped by cloud like, red-brown plumes reaching up to 9 feet in height, from late summer through autumn.
The foliage is metallic light blue and turns to golden-yellow during autumn.
Big and bold; this is an excellent substitute for Miscanthus.
Introduced by Bluemont Nursery in Monkton, Maryland.

'Dacotah'

* Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.


'Dallas Blues'
Reaches up to 7.2 x 8.3 ( rarely over 6 x 5 ) feet with wide ( up to 1.5 inches ) powdery-blue foliage that turns to golden-yellow during autumn.
The seed heads are very large, to 24 + inches and football shaped. They are purplish blue turning to intense orange-tan color and lasting through the winter.



* Red Dinner Plate Perennial Hibiscus's might complement this clump nicely

* photo taken on Aug 3 2012 in London, Ontario

* photo taken on July 15 2013 in Harford Co., MD

* photos taken on Sep 21 2013 in Harford Co., MD

* photos taken on June 20 2014 in Harford Co., MD

* photos taken on Oct 2 2016 in Harford Co., MD


'Gigantea'
Reaches a maximum size of 10 feet.

'Haense Herms' ( Red Switch Grass )
A tall grass reaching up to 6 x 5 feet with fall flowers held well above the fine-textured, green foliage which turns to striking orange-red in autumn. It is less likely to get flattened by high winds than other cultivars.

* photo taken on August 2 2010 in Goderich, Ontario



'Heavy Metal'
Very stiff and upright in habit, to 6 x 8 feet ( height to 8 feet while in bloom ) with very attractive, metallic blue foliage that turns to yellow in autumn.
The sturdy stems do not need staking. The pinkish flower plumes are borne late summer into early autumn.
It is an introduction of Kurt Bluemel in Maryland.

'Heilinger Hain'
Similar to 'Heavy Metal' except only reaching up to 4 feet and with the broad blue foliage turning intense burgundy-red early in autumn.

'Hot Rod'
Upright in habit, reaching up to 3.3 feet.
The foliage is blue-green, quickly turning to deep red during summer.
Hardy zones 4 to 9.

'Northwind'
Vigorous and stiffly upright in habit, reaching up to 7 x 5 feet.
The thick, broad, steel-blue to deep green leaves turn to yellow during autumn.

* photos taken on Sep 15 2013 in Howard Co., MD


'Prairie Fire'
Reaches up to 5 x 4 feet, with foliage that emerges blue-green, turning deep red tinged by early summer.
During late fall, the foliage makes another transition to deep yellow.
Hardy zones 5 to 9.

'Prairie Sky'
It is hardy one zone colder than other cultivers and has awesome intense powdery blue foliage that is not as rigid as 'Heavy Metal' . Strong growing, tall and upright, to 6 x 6 feet, it is topped in late summer with billowing amber-brown plumes. Its foliage appears earlier in spring than most other cultivars and its sturdy stems do not need staking. Excellent fall color.

* photo taken on 4th of July @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.


'Ruby Ribbons'
Vigorous but dense, compact, upright and vase-shaped in habit, reaching up to 3 x 3 ( 4 in bloom ) feet in height. The sturdy foliage rarely flops over.
The blue-green foliage turns to purplish-red during mid-summer.
The flower plumes are grayish-purple.
They are followed by seeds that persist well into winter.
Hardy zones 4 to 9.

* photo taken on Oct 21 2014 @ Smithsonian Inst., Washington, DC
'Shelter'

* Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.


'Shenandoah'
Reaching up to 4 x 4.5 feet ( 5.5 x 6.5 feet in bloom ) with deep-red plumes in early summer and with the entire plant turning from blue-green to intense burgundy red in late summer and autumn. A great companion plant for Echinops ‘Arctic Glow’.
Hardy zones 2 to 9

* photo taken on Aug 25 2011 @ Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore College, PA

* photos taken on Sep 20 2012 in Ellicott City, MD

* photo taken on Sep 14 2013 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Sep 21 2013 in Harford Co., MD

* photos taken @ U.S. Botanical Garden, Wash., DC on Aug 25 2014

* photos taken on Sep 8 2015 in Ellicott City, MD

* photo taken on Aug 4 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Sep 1 2016 in Ellicott City, MD

* photo taken on Oct 2 2016 in Harford Co., MD

* photo taken on June 12 2017 in Columbia, MD


'Strictum'
Can be grown from seed, this variety is stiff and upright in habit, reaching up to 6 x 5.5 feet, with excellent blue-green foliage. The foliage turns to golden-yellow during autumn.
The purplish flower plumes are borne late summer into early autumn.

'Warrior'
Strong growing, upright and arching, reaching up to 6 x 7 feet, with foliage that reddens during late summer and intensifies during autumn.
The purplish flower plumes are borne late summer into early autumn.


* photo taken on June 30 2013

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