Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Switch Grass, Wand Panic Grass
Panicum virgatum

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Panicum (PAN-ih-kum) (Info)
Species: virgatum (vir-GA-tum) (Info)

Synonym:Panicum virgatum var. virgatum

10 vendors have this plant for sale.

7 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Fuchsia (Red-Purple)

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Provides winter interest

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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4 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Sep 5, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A tough, adaptable, clump-forming, warm-season grass native to most of North America. This does not spread aggressively by the roots. It may sometimes self-sow, but I haven't found it to do so aggressively in the garden.

The flowers/seedheads are fine-textured and have a misty presence, especially attractive when back-lit by the low sun.

When I see this growing in unimproved soil by the roadside, it's generally only 2-3' tall, and stands straight all winter through snow and ice. Attractive winter presence. In rich garden soil, it may topple.

Though it's a warm-season grass, I've always found it to survive the winter after fall planting (in Z6a Boston).

Positive Rickwebb On Sep 4, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I have so far only seen the straight species of this wild in southern New Jersey in the pine barrens and seeded on the grounds of the Wild Center of the Wild Ones in central Wisconsin. Otherwise, I have seen it in one of several cultivars planted somewhat commonly in gardens and landscapes. Good native prairie or meadow plant.

Negative MaukaToMakai On Jul 17, 2008, MaukaToMakai wrote:

Please do not plant in Hawai'i, potentially very invasive.

Positive dkm65 On Jul 22, 2007, dkm65 from Cedar Falls, IA (Zone 4b) wrote:

Provides winter interest, although more for its structure and not its color as with some other prairie grasses (e.g., little bluestem). It has very fine, attractive seed heads.

It can be a bit more aggressive than some native prairie grasses, but shouldn't be too difficult to control. It tolerates a wide range of soils from wet-mesic to dry, and is drought tolerant (although not as tolerant as some other native tall prairie grasses like indian grass or big or little bluestem).

Birds eat the seed, so it provides important winter forage for them. Also a good ground cover for wildlife.

Shouldn't need stratified, as seeds germinate fairly readily when sown in warm soil (>60 deg. F).

Positive gregr18 On Aug 16, 2006, gregr18 from Bridgewater, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This grass was mentioned in George Bush's 2006 State of the Union address as a possible source of energy. It is considered a potentially important source of ethanol, as it yields considerably more ethanol than does a comparable amount of corn, which is the most common source of ethanol fuel in the United States.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions and may kisplace desireable vegetation if not properly managed. It is native to all of the US except CA and the Pacific NW. It grows 3-5 feet tall and is used as nesting areas for pheasants, quail and rabbits. The seeds also provide food for many birds and animals.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Thomasville, Georgia
Boise, Idaho
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Hinsdale, Illinois
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Springfield, Missouri
Chatsworth, New Jersey
Frenchtown, New Jersey
Nottingham, Pennsylvania
Arlington, Texas
Chester, Virginia
Appleton, Wisconsin

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