Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch'
Common Name: switch grass
Type: Ornamental grass
Family: Poaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to February
Bloom Description: Pink-tinged
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Good Cut, Good Dried
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Wet Soil, Black Walnut, Air Pollution

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates wide range of soils, including dry ones, but prefers moist, sandy or clay soils. Tends to flop in rich soils. Generally best in full sun. Will grow in part shade, but begins to lose its columnar form in too much shade, growing more openly and possibly falling over. Grows primarily in clumps, but may infrequently spread by rhizomes. Also may self-seed in optimum growing conditions, however 'Rotstrahlbusch' does not come true from seed and self-seeded plants may be best removed from a planting to preserve the uniformity of the foliage color. Cut back clumps to the ground in late winter to early spring.

Noteworthy Characteristics

'Rotstrahlbusch' is a switch grass cultivar (sometimes called red switch grass) which is noted for its excellent burgundy-red fall color. It is a clump-forming, warm season grass which typically grows in an upright, vertical clump to 3' tall (to 5' when in flower). Stems typically retain vertical form without flopping throughout the growing season and into winter. Features silver-green leaves which begin acquiring reddish tones in mid-summer as it gradually changes to burgundy-red by autumn. Foliage fades to tan-beige in winter. Foliage clump is topped in mid-summer by finely-textured, pink-tinged, branched flower panicles which hover over the foliage like an airy cloud. Panicles turn straw-yellow as the seeds mature, fading to beige in winter. Seed plumes persist well into winter providing visual interest as well as food for birds.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to rust, particularly in hot, humid summer climates. May naturalize.

Garden Uses

Accent, group or mass. Also effective as a screen. Perennial borders, wild gardens, native plant gardens, prairies, meadows or naturalized areas. Also appropriate for water gardens and bog gardens.