How to Grow Switch Grass in the United States


Switch grass (Panicum virgatum), an ornamental grass variety within the genus Panicum, provides an upright, clumping growth habit with a moderate texture. A summer perennial grass native to North America, switch grass resists many diseases and pests. The dense switch grass grows in a range of colors including red, purple, blue and green, providing color to the garden from late summer through fall. Tucked along the back of the garden, switch grass creates a showy garden display. It grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9.

Step 1

Select a switch grass variety for your planting area. Upland switch grass grows 5 to 6 feet tall and prefers well-drained soil. Lowland switch grass grows up to 12 feet tall and prefers the heavy soils of bottomland sites. Common switch grass grows 4 to 6 feet tall and wide and does well in a variety of soils.

Step 2

Plant switch grass seedlings in spring, when soil temperature reaches 65 degrees F and air temperatures reach 75 degrees F.

Step 3

Test the soil pH. Switch grass prefers a pH of 5.0 or higher. Amend the soil with lime if the test indicates a pH level reading below 5.0.

Step 4

Plant the switch grass seedling ½ to ¼ inches deep in fine soil and ¾ inch deep in coarse soils.

Step 5

Water the newly-planted site to ensure the soil remains moist for at least one month after planting. When the moisture level is not met, switch grass emergence is slower and has the potential to fail.

Step 6

Add a 2-inch layer of mulch around the planting site to retain moisture and ensure a healthy and vigorous plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Switch grass seedlings
  • Soil testing kit
  • Lime
  • Mulch


  • Auburn University: Switchgrass Profile
  • North Carolina State University Extension: Switch Grass
  • Bladen Energy: Planting and Managing Switchgrass
Keywords: growing switch grass, upland switch grass, lowland switch grass, planting switch grass

About this Author

Callie Barber is a writer, designer and photographer in North Carolina. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate your indoor and outdoor living environment. Her articles have appeared in and and her photography has been featured in "Automotive News" magazine and