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


Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo


Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage


Provides Winter Interest

Foliage Color:



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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

Fuchsia (red-purple)

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Milton, Delaware

Thomasville, Georgia

Boise, Idaho

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Hinsdale, Illinois

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Springfield, Missouri

Chatsworth, New Jersey

Frenchtown, New Jersey

Chester Springs, Pennsylvania

Fayetteville, Pennsylvania

Nottingham, Pennsylvania

Arlington, Texas

Park City, Utah

Chester, Virginia

Appleton, Wisconsin

Westfield, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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).


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

I have so far have seen the straight species of this wild in southern New Jersey in the pine barrens, in a prairie restoration in northern Illinois and southeast PA, at Prime Hook Preserve in southern Delaware, and what was seeded on the grounds of the Wild Center of the Wild Ones in central Wisconsin. Otherwise, I have used it as several cultivars and it is planted somewhat commonly in gardens and landscapes. Good native prairie or meadow plant. It can used in a garden or landscape as the mother species also. This species stands up well, not flopping over as some other grasses. If used in a prairie restoration, North Creek Nursery recommends that it be burned at least every 4 to 6 years, as it likes fire in early spring like many other prairie plants. I have burned my clumps in my garden ... read more


On Jul 17, 2008, MaukaToMakai wrote:

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


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).


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.


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.