Switch grass, also known as panic grass (Panicum virgatum), is one of the best native garden grasses. This statuesque, clump-forming grass changes color with the seasons—from mid-green to yellow to beige. In the fall, a pink cloud of flower panicles rises high above the leaves. Switch grass brings height and movement to a perennial bed, creates a living screen, and provides food and shelter for wildlife. Three cultivars to try:
‘Cloud Nine’ (Zones 5 to 9) 5 to 7 feet tall (in flower), blue-green foliage, golden flowers.
‘Prairie Sky’ (Zones 4 to 9) 4 to 6 feet tall, soft blue foliage, dark red flowers.
‘Shenandoah’ (Zones 5 to 9) 3 to 4 feet tall, leaves emerge blue-green but turn red-purple by midsummer, reddish-pink flowers.
— Elizabeth Noll
Photo: Bill Johnson