Panicum virgatum 'Dacotah' - Dacotah Switch Grass

Noted for its exceptional cold hardiness, we fully expect this variety to be 'Calgary hardy'. Both P. Dacotah and P. Sunburst (also Calgary hardy) will bloom at least 2 weeks earlier than our other Panicums. Both are great ornamental plants.

Keep in mind that Dacotah is noticeably shorter than many other Panicum sold as garden ornamentals. This can be a real asset in smaller gardens.

According to the US Dept of Agriculture, this variety is more drought tolerant than other Panicum cultivars.

Description: warm season*; appears to be clumping grass, rather than a slow spreader
Foliage is green, of medium width; 90-120 cm (36-48") in height
Flowers in Aug-Sept; 105-135 cm (42-54") tall
Form - slightly arching leaves, upright flowers

Ideal conditions: full sun; prefers moist fertile soil, but adapts to a wide range of soil conditions

Zone: 3-9, probably colder (find your zone; further info on plant hardiness)

Partner with: Baptisia, Eupatorium cannabinum, Inula racemosa 'Sonnenspeer', Sorghastrum, Andropogon, Patrinia

Suggested uses: borders, specimen, drifts, groups, massed, in large containers

Season of interest: mid summer through fall

Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once every 2 weeks); further info

The species is native to: the Dakotas, northern Minnesota/Wisconsin and southern Manitoba/Saskatchewan

Recommended spacing between plants: 40-80 cm (24-32") why such a difference?

When to divide: when it shows signs of life in the spring, continuing until the new growth is about 12" tall; only in the spring (further info on dividing grasses)

When to plant or transplant: plant bare root plants only in late spring to early summer, when the soil is warm, about the same time you plant your bean or corn seeds. The roots will grow only in warm soil. Planting too early in the spring may cause the roots to rot. Similar story in the fall when the roots may not grow enough to establish before the cold and wet of winter, resulting in the demise of the plant.

When to cut back: before the new growth starts to appear, but after the cold weather is over. Cut back to about 3-4" from the crown of the plant.

Pronunciation: Panicum (PAN-ih-kum) virgatum (veer-GAH-tum)


*a warm season grass likes to grow in warm weather. Before it will show signs of life in the spring, the soil must warm up, and be warm for possibly as long as two weeks.

More ornamental grasses

Compare Panicum virgatum 'Dacotah to our other grasses in this handy chart.


Panicum virgatum 'Dacotah'

from the USDA website: states and
provinces where
Panicum virgatum is native