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Panicum virgatum

Pronunciation: Pan-ih-kum vir-ga-tum
Family: Poaceae/gramineae (grass family)
Common Name: Switchgrass, prairie switchgrass, tall panic grass, water panicum, wild redtop, thatchgrass
Plant Type:
  • grasses
  • perennial
Height to: 3'-6'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • -20 to -30ºF ZONE 4
  • -10 to -20ºF ZONE 5
  • 0 to -10ºF ZONE 6
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Season:
  • early summer
  • mid summer
  • late summer
Bloom Description: The inconspicuous flowers, which have reddish-purple anthers, are borne in open 10 in (25. 4 cm) panicles. They produce shiny teardrop shaped 1/8 in (0. 3 cm) seeds. On midwestern prairies and bottomland sites, switchgrass develops long rhizomes (underground stems) that grow horizontally to interlace and form a thick, dense sod. On upland sites and in the southeast, switchgrass grows as a bunchgrass. The roots of switchgrass may reach depths of 10 ft (3. 1 m) or more. Switchgrass is a warm season perennial that waits until summer to put on its top growth.
Soil Type: Switchgrass (panicum virgatum) prefer a wide variety of soils, but likes deep sandy loams best. It does poorly on heavy soils, although it tolerates moderate soil salinity and ph levels ranging from about 4. 5 to 7. 6. Once a stand has been established, it will benefit from fertilization, but nitrogen should be applied only sparingly early in the growing season and never on very young plantings, lest it encourage competition from cool-season grasses.
Plant Perks:
  • Fall Foliage
  • Drought Tolerant
Propagation: Switchgrass typically produces heavy crops of seed, but only a small percent are viable. Seeding at a rate of 2-10 lbs. /acre is often recommended, but it may take many times this amount to produce a dense stand. The seeds drop from the plants within a few weeks after ripening, but require dormancy at winter temperatures before they will germinate. Switchgrass seeds must be firmly planted 1/4-1/2 in (0. 6-1. 3 cm) deep. They begin to sprout when the soil temperature reaches 68f (20c)in the spring.
Native to: Switchgrass (panicum virgatum) is native to midwestern prairies and in openings and savannas throughout the eastern united states. It is one of the co-dominant grass species of the original tallgrass prairie.
Notes for Identification: Switchgrass (panicum virgatum) can be mowed or grazed down to about 8 in (20. 3 cm) in the winter, but the stubble is important for winter insulation and should not be cut shorter than that in cold climates. This species evolved with fire and does best when burned occasionally. Switchgrass typically survives fire by regrowing from protected underground rhizomes, but the vigor of the new growth depends upon the season and intensity of the fire, and whether it is of the more fire resistant sod-forming type with rhizomes several inches below the soil surface, or the more sensitive bunchgrass type with rhizomes growing up into elevated tussocks. Switchgrass (panicum virgatum)  should be burned just before it begins growing in the spring. A fire every 3-5 years is recommended. pin it
USDA Heat Zones (days above 86ºF):
  • Less then 1 day ZONE 1
  • 1 to 7 days ZONE 2
  • 7 to 14 days ZONE 3
  • 14 to 30 days ZONE 4
  • 30 to 45 days ZONE 5
  • 45 to 60 days ZONE 6
  • 60 to 90 days ZONE 7
  • 90 to 120 days ZONE 8
  • 120 to 150 days ZONE 9
Seed photo: 0
Seed Label: 0
Located in: Grasses
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