Northwind Switchgrass

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'

Family: Switch Grass

Type: Ornamental grass

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Northwind Switchgrass, scientifically known as Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’, is a robust and upright ornamental grass. It is renowned for its striking vertical lines and olive-green to blue-green foliage.

This perennial grass is characterized by its sturdy stems and dense, upright growth habit. It produces airy flower panicles in late summer that add a soft, textured look.

Hardy in zones 4-9, Northwind Switchgrass is an excellent choice for adding structure and height to gardens. It thrives in full sun and well-draining soil, and once established, it is notably low maintenance.

Needs & Preferences

Hardiness Zone: 3a-4a

Pet Friendly: Yes

Moisture Preference: Dry to moist

Sun Needs: Full sun to partial shade

Drought Tolerance (Xeriscape): Yes


Growth Rate: Medium

Average Height (feet): 5

Average Spread (feet): 3

Average Life Span (years): 15

Form: Towering


Flower Color: Pink

Bloom Season: In mid summer

Foliage Color: Green

Leaf Fall Color: Yellow

Foliage Shape: Grassy

Landscaping Your Yard With Northwind Switchgrass

Incorporating Northwind Switchgrass into your landscaping can provide year-round interest and structure. Its tall, narrow form is ideal for creating vertical accents in the garden.

This grass is perfect for use in borders, as a screen, or in mass plantings for a dramatic effect. Its wind-resistant nature makes it a fantastic choice for exposed or coastal gardens.

Despite its dramatic appearance, Northwind Switchgrass is surprisingly easy to care for. It is drought-tolerant once established and can adapt to a variety of soil conditions.


Suitable Garden Styles

Prairie Garden

In prairie gardens, Northwind Switchgrass adds to the naturalistic aesthetic, blending beautifully with wildflowers and other native grasses.

Contemporary Garden

For contemporary landscapes, this switchgrass serves as a sculptural element, offering clean lines and a modern feel.

Wildlife Garden

It provides seeds for birds and habitat for wildlife, enhancing a garden's ecological value.

Northwind Switchgrass Landscaping Ideas

Use as a backdrop for perennial beds. Its height and form contrast well with lower-growing, flowering plants.

Plant in rows to create a natural privacy screen or windbreak. Its dense growth is effective for defining spaces.

Combine with other ornamental grasses for a varied yet harmonious display. Different textures and heights can create a visually appealing tapestry.

Seasonal Interest


In spring, Northwind Switchgrass begins its growth cycle, with fresh green blades emerging from the ground.


During summer, it reaches its full height and produces airy flower panicles, adding movement and texture.


In the fall, the foliage may turn golden yellow, providing warm autumnal tones to the garden.


In winter, the dried grass remains upright, offering structural interest and resilience against snow and frost.

Planting Tips

Where to Plant

Northwind Switchgrass excels in open, sunny areas. It’s ideal for spacious gardens where its height and form can be fully appreciated.


Full sun is best for Northwind Switchgrass, ensuring optimal growth and flowering. It can tolerate some light shade but may not be as robust.


This grass is adaptable to various soil types, from sandy to clay, as long as they are well-draining.


Space plants about 3 feet apart to accommodate their mature size and encourage air circulation.

When to Plant

The ideal planting time is in the spring or early fall, allowing roots to establish before extreme weather.

How to Plant

Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and the same depth. Place the grass in the hole, backfill with soil, and water thoroughly.

Plant Care Tips


Regular watering is essential until established. Mature Northwind Switchgrass is drought-tolerant and requires minimal watering.


Fertilize sparingly in early spring. Over-fertilization can lead to weak, floppy growth.


Cut back to about 4 inches in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

By Season


Spring Care

Remove old growth from the previous season and apply a light layer of compost or slow-release fertilizer.

Summer Care

Water in prolonged dry periods. Otherwise, little care is needed during the summer.

Fall Care

Enjoy the autumnal color changes. Reduce watering as the plant prepares for dormancy.

Winter Care

Leave the dried stems for winter interest and to provide habitats for wildlife. No additional care is needed.


How Tall Does Northwind Switchgrass Grow?

Northwind Switchgrass typically reaches 4 to 6 feet in height, with flower stalks that can extend even taller.

Is Northwind Switchgrass Invasive?

No, it is not invasive. It grows in clumps and does not spread aggressively.

Can Northwind Switchgrass Be Divided?

Yes, it can be divided in early spring every few years to rejuvenate growth and manage size.

Products That Feature This Plant

Classic Beauty
Shades of Evergreen

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