Ornamental grass identification – Plant ID



Many years ago you recommended this highly drought-resistant ornamental grass for a bakingly hot bed in front of my house. It grew to 3.5 feet high and proved very hardy and was also zero maintenance. It turns a reddish purple in the fall and has slightly feathery whitish tops. Over the years its growth has slowed and I’d love to get more. Any idea what it is? Or have you any tips on how/what to fertilize it with to promote growth?

Thank you,
Moira Ruskell


Hello – I’m going to guess that this grass is a switchgrass and in particular the cultivar Shenandoah. I’m basing this as much on your description as I am the photo.

Shenadoah is considered to have the best burgundy red fall foliage of the many panicum cultivars. It has an upright form and grows to 3-4 feet.  It is drought tolerant and very easy to maintain. The one discrepancy from your description is that the feathery flower panicles are described as pinkish. I wouldn’t fertilize switchgrass as a rich soil makes it flop.  While it is drought tolerant, it does prefer moist soil so some regular watering will promote growth. I’ve seen it in local garden centres and nurseries, so it should be readily available if you want to purchase more.  Look for it by it’s botanical name: Panicum virgatum ‘Shenadoah’.

Hope that helps.