Native grasses

Tue. Jan. 29, 2019

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Native grasses

Native plants provide for a wide diversity with an established track record in our climate, although things are changing and I’ll talk more about that tomorrow.  

Butterfly garden Sept. 2018 – all native plants. Asters, Ironweed, rough blazing star and more

Native plants don’t ask for much, just the right sun/shade conditions and the right soil, wet, moist or dry. We’re lucky to have some very lovely native grasses stretching into zone 3 climate.

Prairie Dropseed and salvia

Some native grasses that can work in the urban landscape include panicum virgatum or switchgrass!  They are adaptable to a wide range of soil, pH and moisture.

From my front porch, the switch grass and karl forester reed grass

DO watch their height, species and selections vary from 3 to 7 feet high, with seed heads that turn reddish before they turn gold.  They can add lovely structure to the garden.

The links to nurseries I have attached are not necessarily an endorsement of the nursery, simply a guide for you.  Check with your local nurseries first.  I DO recommend Prairie Moon or Prairie Restoration.  Click on this LINK for a list of Wisconsin Native nurseries.  You might not be able to find the cultivars I’ve listed through these links.

The ‘Northwind’ cultivar hales from Wisconsin and is particularly narrow and upright and grows to about 4 feet tall.

Switchgrass ‘Northwind’ by Millette Garden media

‘Heavy Metal’ is also relatively upright, growing to 4 feet with foliage that is silvery blue-green.

Switchgrass ‘Heavy Metal’ by Latham

‘Shenandoah’ is 3 feet tall and has a striking burgundy fall color that turns relatively early. I have this one!

Switchgrass ‘Shenandoah’ taken at MN Arb

‘Cape Breeze’ is a newer, more compact selection growing 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall, has a looser, fluffier habit.  

while ‘Ruby Ribbons’ and ‘Hot Rod’ have good red fall color, and are relatively short, just 3 feet or so.

Switchgrass ‘Hot Rod’ photo by Gurneys