Crimson Switch Grass

Who knew that Switch Grass, Panicum Virgatum, a perennialturns a brillant crimson color in the fall! These grasses are absolutely gorgeous against the browns and ambers which predominate the fall prairie tones.  Started from seed and planted as seedlings, these one year old plants were installed to stabilize a hillside. Switch Grass is commonly used to prevent soil erosion because its deep fibrous root system extends into the soil to a depth of ten feet. A comparative root depth diagram can be seen on Minnesota’s DNR web page. Deep soil penetration of the Switch Grasses’ root system acts as a natural herbicide by blocking weed growth, as well as, increases the soil’s fertility, permeability, and organic material!

Switch Grass

Switch Grass is of fairly hardy stock, tolerant of prairie soil conditions ranging from moist to dry. The grass requires full sun to part shade for optimum growth. This tufted grass, a native of North America and a dominant species of the Tall Grass Prairie, grows to about 36 inches tall and 20 inches in diameter with seed heads reaching to a height of five feet. The Switch Grasses’ large size and upright growth also provides wildlife protection and nesting sites. The attributes of this native plant help to sustain the prairie habitat. Both man and nature can reap ecological benefits by planting a few Switch Grass plants here and there.


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