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Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' (switchgrass)

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Technical sheet - Warm-season grass

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'


The brightest red Panicum by a long shot. Experienced horticulturists have mistaken it for Imperata at first glance. It colors up by June and the flowers are also red. The shortest of the group and also the slowest grower, perhaps due in part to its lack of chlorophyll. This will probably be the most popular Switchgrass ever! Introduced by Dr. Hans Simon of Germany. Nothing comes close to the fall color displayed by this grass!

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
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2-3 Feet


2 Feet


24 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 4-9

switchgrass Interesting Notes

The brightest red Panicum by a long shot - even experienced horticulturalists have mistaken it for Imperata at first glance. Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’ begins to show streaks of blood red by June with striking, airy flowers also in red blooming in July and early August. Introduced by Dr. Hans Simon of Germany, this is the shortest of the Panicum group and perhaps the slowest grower, perhaps due in part to its lack of chlorophyll. ‘Shenandoah’ grows 3’ tall and 2-3’ wide, perfect for the home garden and a lovely accent for fall - nothing comes close to the fall color displayed by this grass!

Panicum virgatum is one of the most common plants found in the central plains of North America. Growing from Quebec to Montana to Florida through to much of Central America in dry or moist prairies, bluffs, stream banks, and open woods. Switchgrass is native to North American tall-grass prairies and was one of the most prominent prairie species. It grows best in full sun but can tolerate part shade, especially with site-associated mycorrhizal fungi. The plant needs little maintenance after planting – it can be cut to 8” tall in late winter or early spring to tidy up appearance before next season’s display. Panicum virgatum rejuvenates with fire - as a prairie species, fire helps clear old growth and the plant’s deep root system protects it. For most upright growth, plant grass in lean soil; too rich of soil causes the plant to flop. It is mostly trouble-free but occasionally, has issues with rust in hot and humid summers. Crown rot or root rot may occur if the site is too moist and there is poor air exchange.

Switchgrass provides habitat and nesting material for many small vertebrates, is an essential host to the Delaware Skipper and for most banded skippers and satyrs, and also provides seed for birds. This plant thrives in tough locations while also maintaining high-ornamental value. The deep root systems are excellent for erosion control and its tolerance for moist sites allows the plant to be used along stream banks and pond edges to keep soil in place. We enjoy the ease of use, disease resistance, deer-resistance, and how it provides a perfect, lush backdrop to pocket prairies, herbaceous borders, seasonal privacy screens, and gravel gardens. 

Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' Growing and Maintenance Tips

Can be grown in a variety of soils, but prefers snady 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, rock gardens in masses or as an accent in the perennial borders.

Good Substitutions

switchgrass Panicum virgatum
switchgrass Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'
switchgrass Panicum 'Cape Breeze'

Key Characteristics & Attributes

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

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Green Infrastructure
Erosion Control
Bioretention/Rain Garden
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative (FAC)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Native to North America
Ornamental Foliage
Propagation Type
Tissue culture
Grass Type
Warm Season