University of Maryland Extension

Panicum virgatum - Switchgrass

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ is a native switchgrass that can grow in either wet or dry soils. ‘Northwind’ grows in a compact clump, prefers full sun, and is cold tolerant in USDA zones 5-9. Plants grow in a tall column, 4-6 feet tall and only 2- 2 ½ feet wide, creating a slender blue-green silhouette with pink-tinged flowers in a light airy branched panicle that seems to float over the top of the foliage. Flowers fade to soft beige. Seeds persists from autumn into the winter, providing food for many native birds. The wide-bladed foliage turns light yellow in autumn, which with the seeds, gives both form and movement in the winter garden. ‘Northwind’ can be used as a screen, in a border, native and meadow garden, and even in rain gardens. They are tolerant of drought, erosion, and air pollution and are possibly deer resistant. Plants can occasionally become susceptible to rust and crown rot if planted too deeply. Japanese beetles, thrips, and spider mites are occasional pests.

Panicum virgatum - switchgrass
Panicum virgatum 'Northwind' is a
native switchgrass that can grow
in wet or dry soils
Panicum virgatum - switchgrass - close-up of seed heads
Panicum virgatum
‘Northwind’ produces
seed that persists into winter for a long
season of interest

Author: Ginny Rosenkranz, Extension Educator, Wicomico, Worcester, and Somerset Counties, University of Maryland Extension

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