Bring a piece of the great American prairie into your garden with this super-stylish Switch Grass.
Much-loved by garden designers, this is a wonderful plant for adding chic style to your outdoor space. Making bold, upright fountains of straight blue-green leaves, it will add strong verticals without being overpowering. When swaying in the wind you can just imagine it in its native home on the prairies of the USA and Canada. These origins also give a clue as to the plant's hardiness - Panicum 'Squaw' is very tough, taking pretty much anything that our climate can throw at it. In autumn, airy panicles of pinkish-red flowers adorn the tops of the plants, while the leaves become tipped with a rich wine-red colour before fading to a straw-like colour for the winter.
A giving (and forgiving) plant that is smart, pretty and long lasting. What's not to like?
Plant Type: Ornamental Grass
Hardiness: H5 Hardy. Minimum temperature -15 to -10.
Plant Height & Spread (at maturity): H 1.5m x W 50cm (Mature age: 2 Years)
Foliage Colour: Blue, Green, Red
Flower Colour: Blue, Green, Red, Purple
Fragrant Flower: No
Aromatic Foliage: No
RHS Award of Garden Merit: No
RHS Perfect for Pollinators: No
Foliage Type: Deciduous
Soil Type: Acid, Alkaline, Chalky, Clay, Loam, Sandy
Soil Drainage: Well Drained, Moist but Well Drained
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Planting Style: Flower Beds & Borders, Cutting Garden, Informal Garden, Cottage Garden, Coastal Garden, Gravel & Drought Resistant Garden, Prairie Garden, Courtyard Garden
Season of Interest: Summer, Autumn, Winter
Flowering (from - to): August - October
This plant works especially well combined with late-blooming plants like dahlias, goldenrod and asters, whose flowering periods coincide with its autumn colouring.
Grow in full sun: although it is drought tolerant it grows best in a well-drained soil that doesn't dry out too much - keep them well watered in the first season while the deep roots establish themselves. (It's better to water heavily but infrequently to encourage the roots to head downwards rather than near the surface where they will be more vulnerable to a lack of water.) Surprisingly for such an upright plant, Panicum 'Squaw' copes well with gusty winds - this can be used to the gardener's advantage as it brings movement to plantings!
In most gardens, feeding isn't necessary - if growth is lacklustre and your soil is particularly poor, give plants a general-purpose feed in spring.
Pruning is simple - just cut the whole lot down to ground level once you see the first green shoots emerging from the base in early spring.