Panicum virgatum 'Cheyenne Sky'
Common Name: switch grass
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to February
Bloom Description: Burgundy-red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Black Walnut, Air Pollution

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates a wide range of soils, including both dry and wet sites. Prefers moist, sandy or clay loams. Tolerates soggy soils and temporary flooding. May flop in overly rich soils. Generally best in full sun. Will grow in part shade, but begins to lose its form in too much shade, growing more openly and sometimes falling over. Grows primarily in tight clumps, but clumps may slowly spread by creeping rhizomes. Cut back clumps to the ground in late winter to early spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

‘Cheyenne Sky’ is a switch grass cultivar that is noted for its tall, upright, blue-green foliage that turns deep wine red in early summer. This is a warm season grass that typically grows in a dense, erect, narrow clump to a compact 2' tall (3' tall with flower spikes present). Foliage retains good upright form throughout the growing season and into winter. Foliage clumps are topped in late summer by foot-long, finely-textured, burgundy-red flower panicles that hover over the foliage like a cloud. Foliage eventually fades to beige-brown by winter. Seed plumes often persist throughout winter, providing visual interest as well as food for birds. Species plants (Panicum virgatum) were an important component of the tallgrass prairie that once covered much of central North America. U. S. Plant Patent Applied For (PPAF).

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to rust, particularly in hot and humid summer climates. Crown or root rot may occur, particularly as a result of improper growing conditions. Japanese beetles, thrips and spider mites may appear.

Garden Uses

Accent, group or mass. Perennial borders, wild gardens, native plant gardens, prairies, meadows or naturalized areas. Also appropriate for water gardens, bog gardens or along streams or ponds.