Plant Profile: Panicum virgatum cvs

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A prairie grass from the Great Plains of North America and again popular with naturalistic gardeners the world over. I saw a great stand of them growing by a canal in Glebe, Sydney, a few years ago, they had probably been there for two years and were unloved – had never been cut back and were not on irrigation, yet they stood at 2m tall! Looking a little worse for wear I admit but anything that can be planted and left to it’s own devices in Sydney and survive it’s wild weather deserves closer inspection.

Panicum virgatum

My friend Morrie Maait of Alpine Treemovals is growing the variety ‘Heavy Metal’ in one of his display gardens where it has reached about a metre in height. The growth is strictly upright. The foliage colours are special, the spring growth is blue-green and there is a vague metallic quality to the colour. In autumn the blue persists but red and burgundy creep down the leaf tips making a beautiful colour combination. It will weather to winter browns and you should leave it standing before cutting it to the ground in late winter.

panicum winter

The flowers form a dense cloud and on dewy mornings the seed heads glisten like tiny jewels.

Image credits: 1. Lauries Blog Spot 2. Supplied 3. Grasstalk