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Genus Panicum

PAN-ih-kum
Panicum is a large genus of from 470 to many more species of grasses from tropical regions worldwide, Europe, and North America. Some species have gray or purple leaves, and others have good autumn color. The leaves are very thin initially and then usually flatten out. Airy flowers are produced in late summer and fall; they are good for cutting and drying. Many species are grown as edible crops, such as millet. Use Panicum in a border or meadow.
Care: Tolerant of most any soil that is moderately fertile and well-drained. Grow in full sun.
Propagation: Divide perennials from mid-spring to early summer, or sow seed in spring at 55° to 64°F.
Problems: Damping off, black ring, tar spot, rust, smut, leaf spots, anthracnose, sugarcane mosaic virus.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Panicum

Panicum virgatum 'Ruby Ribbons' Panicum virgatum 'Ruby Ribbons'
(Switch Grass)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Panicum Ruby Ribbons’ soft blue-green foliage emerges in the spring on upright, clumping plants. The foliage takes on a wine-red color in early summer, which intensifies as the season progresses. Flower heads appear in late summer, followed by ornamental seed heads, which, if left uncut, provide long-lasting winter interest.

no image available Panicum amarum 'Dewey Blue'
(Bitter switchgrass, Switchgrass)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

A stunning, native dune grass, 'Dewey Blue' is perfect for coastal areas as well as inland gardens. Heat, drought, and humidity won't faze its noticeably graceful habit. This grass has exceptional blue foliage and a vigorous constitution. Airy, light beige flowers emerge in late summer and fall, persisting well into winter for a long season of interest. 'Dewey Blue' grows 4 to 5 feet tall and almost as wide.

Panicum virgatum 'Prairie Fire' Panicum virgatum 'Prairie Fire'
(‘Prairie Fire’ red switchgrass)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Prairie Fire' is a distinctly red form of switchgrass. Blue-green spring foliage turns shades of deep red by early summer and butter yellow in late fall. The grass persists into winter. 'Prairie Fire' has a fibrous root system that grows to more than 10 feet deep, making it drought tolerant. -Scott Vogt, Native grasses, Fine Gardening issue #124

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'
('Shenandoah' red switchgrass)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'Shenandoah' is truly a plant for all seasons. In early summer, its leaf blades are tipped in red, and by autumn, the entire leaf is a rich burgundy color, topped by pink plumes. In winter, the leaf color fades to beige; the blades persist and offer cover to birds. 'Shenandoah' is a compact selection of an American native prairie grass. -Chris Kelley, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue #120

no image available Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’
(Switch grass)
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This rhizomatous perennial grass has a narrowly upright, clumping form. Mid-green stems bear stiff, erect, blue-gray leaves to 24 inches long. Foliage turns yellow in autumn. Weeping panicles of tiny purple-green spikes appear in early autumn.