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Regional Picks: Plant This, Not That – Midwest

Fine Gardening - Issue 153
‘Heavy Metal’ Switchgrass 'karl foerster' feather reed grass

Overused: ‘Karl Foerster’

feather reed grass

(Calamagrostis × acutifolia

‘Karl Foerster’)

1.‘Heavy Metal’ Switchgrass

Name: Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’

USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9

Size: 4 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide

Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; well-drained soil

Oh, Karl, you were my first (ornamental-grass) love. I’m not alone, apparently, because your flat green color and wheatlike flowers have appeared in traffic-island gardens across the Midwest. But I’ve grown up, seen the world, and found many grasses that you just can’t top. I’ve become particularly fond of ‘Heavy Metal’ switchgrass. Its dreamy, metallic blue color; cloudlike pinkish flowers; and excellent clumping shape demand a place in the garden. Site it in full sun for the best growth and shape. It forms a dense clump that should be cut back in late winter or early spring.


Fastigiate European Hornbeam
Photo: doreenwynja.com

Overused: Linden

(Tilia cordata)

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