Native Plant Sale News

The Spring Native Plant Sale is cancelled due to the need for social distancing, but there are plenty of opportunities to add native trees, shrubs, perennials, and more to your garden! We’ve been able to retool this event to entail timed pick-ups of online orders. Simply place your order, and you’ll be contacted when it’s ready to arrange a safe and convenient pick-up time.


The presale order timeline has been extended to Thursday, April 16, but for the best selection, consider placing your order by April 2. Click here for complete information and to place an order…and see below for information on switchgrass and its aesthetic and ecological value for your garden.

               Panicum virgatum cultivars ‘Heavy Metal’ (at left) and ‘Shenandoah’. Photos: Wikimedia Commons.

As a species, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and its various cultivars are sturdy warm-season grasses that can tolerate a wide range of conditions, including moisture and drought. They perform in a variety of applications that include accents, borders, rain gardens, meadows, and screens. Not well liked by deer, their foliage of various hues remains intact throughout the season, and their deep, fibrous roots provide excellent erosion control.


All forms tend to grow upright in sunny locations and may have a looser habit if grown in rich soils or shadier areas. All switchgrass grown in a garden setting benefit from having the prior year’s growth trimmed at the start of spring to promote fresh new growth.


Panicum virgatum
3-6′. The natural variation between straight species plants produces grayish green, green, or blue-green foliage with color changing to yellow or red in fall.

Panicum virgatum ‘Cape Breeze’
2-3′. This early-flowering variety with a compact, upright habit stays green well into fall.
Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal
4-5′. Introduced by the Baltimore nursery Kurt Bluemel, Inc., this columnar, metallic blue version with pinkish seed heads turns yellow in fall.
Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’
4-5′ wide, with olive-green to blue-green leaf blades that turn yellow in fall. Stems are extremely upright and sturdy, which can be advantageous in windy locations.
Panicum virgatum ‘Ruby Ribbons’
3-4′. With blue-green foliage in spring, ‘Ruby Ribbons’ earns its name by turning reddish purple by midsummer. Flower spikelets are purple.
Panicum virgatum ‘Shenandoah’
3-4′. This compact, slower-growing switchgrass has blue-green leaves in spring that turn burgundy in summer. Reddish flower spikelets by late summer.

Click here to view the spring plant catalog.