Red Rays Switchgrass

Panicum virgatum 'Red Rays'

Family: Switch Grass

Type: Ornamental grass

Other Common Name: Switchgrass 'Red Rays'

Red Rays Switchgrass, also known as Panicum virgatum ‘Red Rays’, is a striking ornamental grass known for its vibrant red inflorescences and upright growth habit. It’s a perennial grass that adds a splash of color and texture to any landscape.

This variety of switchgrass is appreciated for its hardy nature and ease of care. Its slender leaves start green but soon develop red streaks, leading to a spectacular display of red flowers in late summer.

Red Rays Switchgrass is suitable for a wide range of climates, thriving in USDA zones 4 through 9. It prefers full sun and can adapt to various soil conditions, making it a versatile choice for gardeners.

Needs & Preferences

Hardiness Zone: 4a-9b

Deer Resistant: Yes

Pet Friendly: Yes

Moisture Preference: Dry to moist

Sun Needs: Full sun

Drought Tolerance (Xeriscape): Yes


Growth Rate: Medium

Average Height (feet): 5

Average Spread (feet): 2

Average Life Span (years): 15

Form: Upright


Flower Color: Red

Bloom Season: From late summer to fall

Foliage Color: Green

Leaf Fall Color: Red

Foliage Shape: Linear

Landscaping Your Yard With Red Rays Switchgrass

Incorporating Red Rays Switchgrass into your landscape design can add height, movement, and color. Its upright form makes it an excellent choice for creating vertical interest in gardens.

This grass is perfect for mass plantings, borders, or as an accent plant. Its striking red blooms and foliage provide a beautiful contrast against green plants and can be used to create a focal point in the garden.

Despite its dramatic appearance, Red Rays Switchgrass is easy to care for, requiring minimal maintenance. It’s drought-tolerant once established, making it a sustainable choice for eco-friendly landscaping.


Suitable Garden Styles

Prairie-Style Garden

In a prairie-style garden, Red Rays Switchgrass complements wildflowers and other native grasses, contributing to a natural, meadow-like appearance.

Contemporary Landscape

Its upright, architectural form and vivid color make it an excellent addition to modern landscape designs.

Wildlife Garden

Red Rays Switchgrass provides habitat and food sources for birds and insects, making it a valuable addition to wildlife-friendly gardens.

Red Rays Switchgrass Landscaping Ideas

Use as a backdrop for perennial beds, where its height and color contrast beautifully with flowering plants.

Plant in groups to create a visually striking and colorful display, especially when the red blooms are in full display.

Combine with other grasses and perennials for a diverse garden that offers varying textures and colors.

Seasonal Interest


In spring, Red Rays Switchgrass begins to grow, with fresh green blades that start showing red streaks.


During summer, it reaches its full height and the red inflorescences emerge, adding a burst of color to the landscape.


In the fall, the foliage and flowers of Red Rays Switchgrass turn a deeper red, providing warm autumnal tones.


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

Planting Tips

Where to Plant

Red Rays Switchgrass thrives in an area with full sun exposure, making it ideal for open, sunny landscapes, garden beds, and borders.


Full sun is crucial for optimal growth and the development of vibrant red inflorescences. This grass prefers at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.


It adapts well to a variety of soil types, as long as the soil is well-draining. It is tolerant of both dry and moist conditions.


Space plants about 2 to 3 feet apart to ensure each plant has enough room to reach its full potential and maintain proper air circulation.

When to Plant

The best time to plant Red Rays Switchgrass is in the spring or early fall, which allows the plants to establish before extreme weather.

How to Plant

Dig a hole that is as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Place the plant in the hole, backfill with soil, and water thoroughly to settle the roots.

Plant Care Tips


Regular watering is necessary until the plant is established. Mature plants are drought-tolerant and require minimal watering.


Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring to encourage healthy growth.


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

By Season


Spring Care

Remove any winter debris and apply a light layer of compost or fertilizer as new growth appears.

Summer Care

Water during prolonged dry periods and enjoy the vibrant growth and flowering.

Fall Care

As the plant prepares for dormancy, reduce watering and enjoy the fall color changes.

Winter Care

Leave the dried stems for winter interest, adding texture to the garden, and providing habitat for wildlife.


How Tall Does Red Rays Switchgrass Grow?

Red Rays Switchgrass typically reaches heights of 4 to 5 feet, with the flower stalks adding additional height.

Is Red Rays Switchgrass Invasive?

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

Can Red Rays Switchgrass Be Grown in Containers?

Yes, it can be grown in containers, though it may not reach its full size. Ensure the container is large enough to accommodate its root system.

Products That Feature This Plant

Sun Bums
Fall Fantastic
Spring Supreme

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