Sign up for News & Availability Emails
Site Search:
Panicum virgatum 'Northwind' (switchgrass)

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'


Wow! An unequivocally upright steel blue panicum selected by Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farm in Springfield, WI. It was the only one of our 13 trial varieties still standing after Hurricane Floyd! And the drought of '99? No problem. Wide, thick leaf blades are a bit more substantial than those of the other blues. A golden yellow color in the fall.

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind' LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
Add to My North Creek Nurseries Wish List


4-5 Feet


2-3 Feet


24 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 2-9

switchgrass Interesting Notes

The Perennial Plant Association's 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year™

From Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farm, comes another fabulously different selection of our native switchgrass...yes, it is completely different. The wide, olive-green foliage makes the strongest vertical accent of any of the switchgrasses that we have grown. This vigorous grower is topped in September with attractive narrow plumes, held incredibly erect atop the foliage. Everyone who sees this rates it as one of the best! ~Plant Delights

The honeymoon with ornamental grasses is over. That doesn't mean most of us won't stay married to them.

As time goes on, our relationships have simply grown deeper, more mature, with a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Those whose marriages remain intact appreciate the good times--ornamental grasses look great during drought--while we tolerate, and even grow stronger through, the bad--dividing those huge, overcrowded crowns.

Good marriages usually require some compromise, a bit of give-and-take on both sides. In the union between gardener and grass, gardeners sacrifice color and blooms for structure, texture, movement and drought tolerance (a pretty good trade, in my opinion).

Today, though, gardeners don't even have to give up color. Some of the newer selections or ornamental grasses deliver cool blues, glittering golds and sultry reds. I'm not sure what effect it will have on their marriages, but it does mean that gardeners can now have it all.

My favorites of the lot are two varieties of switch grass (Panicum virgatum ). A native grass, and tough as nails, Panicum provides vertical accent to any border or mixed shrub bed. In a pinch, it can also serve as a seasonal hedge, offering nearly complete privacy behind dense upright clumps. HGTV

Panicum virgatum is native to North American tall-grass prairies from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean and was one of the most prominent prairie species. This grass was one of the important components of the tall-grass prairie that once covered the vast interior of the United States. A versatile grass, it tolerates a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. As the habitats of Panicum are taken over by humans, these grasses are found in wetter sites than before.

Panicum is valued as an ornamental for its erect form, showy flowers and interesting winter silhouette.Switch grass is a clumping, warm-season, noninvasive grass. Foliage color ranges from deep green to steely blue. Plant height varies from 4 to 7 feetwith feathery panicles rising 1-2 feet above the foliage. Flowers are pinkish to reddish, maturing to silvery gray. Autumn color of the plants is various shades of yellow. Plants remain upright throughout the winter or until cut back.

Panicum is used effectively alone or in clumps. Taller cultivars are excellent background plants. Since this grass tolerates moist soils, it is a fine choice for water gardens or along stream banks and pond edges. Switch grass can be used as a groundcover to control erosion and for the transition areas between garden and wood areas. Foliage and flowers of Panicum are effective in flower arrangements, both fresh and dried.

Panicum prefers full sun, and moist, fertile soil; however, the plant will tolerate sand, heavy clay, dry slopes and boggy areas. Switch grass thrives along the coast by the ocean, tolerating salt spray and wind.

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind' Growing and Maintenance Tips

Can be grown in a variety of soils, but prefers shady loam soils in full to partial sun. Drought tolerant once established, yet will tolerate wet, soggy soils for short periods. Spreads quickly or slowly by rhizomes depending on growing conditions. Propagate by seed or division in spring. Cut back in early spring to promote new flush of growth. Most effective as a specimen, in masses or as a vertical accent in the borders.

Good Substitutions

switchgrass Panicum 'Cape Breeze'
switchgrass Panicum virgatum
switchgrass Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Drought Tolerant
Drought Tolerant
Cut Flower
Cut Flower
Salt Tolerance
Salt Tolerance

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Green Infrastructure
Erosion Control
Native to North America
Propagation Type
Tissue culture
Grass Type
Warm Season