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Prairie Switchgrass – Panicum virgatum


A *warm season, clump-forming grass averaging about 3 feet tall, with flower panicles that may bring total plant height to 6 feet.  Flower panicles are one of the most distinguishing features of switchgrass. Flowers are inconspicuous but with burgundy anthers and stigmas dangling from  well-branched panicles that are open, airy, forming a cloud-like appearance above leaves. Red-purple seed heads follow.  Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to very light shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils, including dry ones, but prefers moist, sandy or clay soils. A prolific self seeder, it should be used with caution in very small landscapes.  Good winter interest, remaining upright and with persisting seed plumes. Seeds favored by birds in winter. Herbivores do like to graze.

*Note: Warm season, or C4, grasses begin to be active in late spring to early summer, flower and set seed in summer to early fall.


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