Panicum virgatum 'Squaw'
- Squaw Switch Grass
At a mature height of 110 cm (44"), this is a perfect Switch
grass for small gardens. It is attractive as a medium green foliage
plant from early summer on. By mid-summer it is showing shades of pink
in the inflorescence. But it is in the autumn when 'Squaw' is in full
colour - a dark wine red. It can even steal attention away from the
asters and chrysanthemums.
Pancium virgatum 'Squaw' can also make a perfect "good-neighbour"
fence while at the same time attracting wildlife (especially quail)
into the winter garden. This plant sways beautifully in a breeze.
Sara Douglas Scott, Albuquerque, NM: “Never would I have imagined
that the field clumps I received in mid-May would be nearly 4 feet high
and full of beautiful pink blooms by mid-August as shown in the photo.
And they only became more beautiful as the inflorescences turned burgundy
in September. If you can be patient as this grass slowly emerges from
dormancy in the spring, you will be treated to stunning summer and autumn
color as well as attractive winter texture.”
We carry three Panicums that have red foliage in the fall. Here are
the differences between 'Squaw', 'Rotstrahlbusch' and 'Shenandoah':
- 'Squaw' and 'Shenandoah' have a cascading form, while 'Rotstrahlbusch'
is distinctly upright
- 'Squaw' and 'Shenandoah' are the same height while 'Rotstrahlbusch'
- leaves of 'Rotstrahlbusch' are slightly narrower than 'Squaw' and
- the foliage of 'Squaw' is green until fall; leaves of 'Rotstrahlbusch'
are tinged with red all growing season; 'Shenandoah' starts green
and the leaf tips turn dark red leaf in July
- the fall color of 'Squaw' and 'Shenandoah' is burgundy; 'Rotstrahlbusch'
- all three have pink to burgundy seedheads
Description: warm season*; sod forming (slow spreader)
Foliage is green in summer, a deep burgundy in the autumn; 14 mm (1/2")
wide; 100-125 cm (40-50") in height
Flowers tinged pink, seeds maturing to burgundy; 125-150 cm (50-60")
Ideal conditions: full sun; prefers moist fertile
soil, but adapts to a wide range of soil conditions
Coldest zone: 4 (find your zone;
further info on plant hardiness)
Partner with: Aster, Boltonia, Sedum
Season of interest: July to winter
Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once
every 2 weeks); further info
The species is native to: prairies and open ground,
open woods, brackish marshes from eastern Canada to central and eastern
US and south to Central America.
Recommended spacing between plants: 60-100 cm (24-40")
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
*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 'Squaw' to our other grasses
in this handy chart.