Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch'
- Red Switch Grass
The many attributes of Panicum virgatum are extended to the
small garden by the use of the cultivar 'Rotstrahlbusch'. With its upright
form it is suitable for Japanese style gardens.
One of the earlier selections of red switch grass (often considered
the best of the reds), and still a great choice for the border. A grass
you scarcely notice until fall when the leaves turn red. This switch
grass can be used very effectively when planted with fall blooming asters.
We carry three Panicums that have red foliage in the fall. Here are
the differences between 'Rotstrahlbusch', 'Squaw' and 'Shenandoah':
- 'Rotstrahlbusch' has a more upright form than the other two
- 'Rotstrahlbusch' is the smallest
- leaves of 'Rotstrahlbusch' are slightly narrower
- 'Rotstrahlbusch' is the oldest cultivar and has withstood the test
- leaves are tinged with red all growing season; 'Shenandoah' starts
green and the leaf tips turn dark red in July; 'Squaw' is green until
- the fall color of 'Rotstrahlbusch' is red; 'Shenandoah' and 'Squaw'
- all three have pink to burgundy seedheads
Description: warm season*; sod forming (slow spreader)
Foliage is green, tinged with red during the growing season, turning
bright red in the fall; 10 mm (3/8") wide; 90-120 cm (36-48") in
Flowers Aug through Sept; 120-140 cm (48-56") tall
Ideal conditions: full sun; prefers moist fertile
soil, but adapts to a wide range of soil conditions
Coldest zone: 3 (find your
zone; further info on plant hardiness)
Partner with: Aster, Boltonia, Sedum
Season of interest: July to winter
Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once
every 2 weeks); further info
The species is native to: prairies and open ground,
open woods, brackish marshes from eastern Canada to central and eastern
US and south to Central America.
Recommended spacing between plants: 50-100 cm (20-40")
why such a difference?
When to divide: when it shows signs of
life in the spring, continuing until the new growth is about
12" tall; only in the spring (further
info on dividing grasses)
When to plant or transplant: plant bare root plants
only in late spring to early summer, when the soil
is warm, about the same time you plant your bean or corn
seeds. The roots will grow only in warm soil. Planting too
early in the spring may cause the roots to rot. Similar
story in the fall when the roots may not grow enough to
establish before the cold and wet of winter, resulting in
the demise of the plant.
When to cut back: before the new growth
starts to appear, but after the cold weather is over. Cut
back to about 3-4" from the crown of the plant.
Pronunciation: Panicum (PAN-ih-kum) virgatum (veer-GAH-tum)
Sizes available: 4" pot size field
clumps; gallon size field clumps; group of 25 plugs
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*a warm season grass likes to grow in warm weather. Before it will
show signs of life in the spring, the soil must warm up, and be warm
for possibly as long as two weeks.
More ornamental grasses
Compare Panicum virgatum 'Rotstrahlbusch' to our
other grasses in this handy