Native metal

Most of the plants I bought this spring for my new garden were perennials I had previously grown.  But I also picked up a pot of Heavy Metal switchgrass on the advice of a salesperson at American Plants.  I just want to share how pretty its bloom is and how upright it looks even in the current high heat.


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Blue-green Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ is a cultivar of a grass native to all but the most western American states. It’s a warm-season grass, but mine looked good even in early spring. Now, with a veil-like inflorescence edged in purple, it’s really lovely. I run my hand over it every time I walk out to the back gate. I will try to plant two or three more in the fall.

According to nursery websites, it likes full to partial sun and moist conditions. Mine has looked great this year in full sun with dryish soil at times. It stays very upright, and it’s hardy to zone 4.  Space it 28″ to 40″ apart, according to your design (Bluestem Nursery has some good advice on spacing grasses and a comparison chart on its website).  It can be divided in early spring.