How to Grow a Northwind Plant


The Northwind plant is a native grass that is grown as an ornamental feature in gardens and prairie settings. The grass is also referred to as switch grass and is hardy in USDA zones 2 through 9. Northwind grass grows to a height of 5 feet with a spread of 2 to 3 feet and produces olive green wide blades of grass that grow upright. The grass produces a plume of seed heads in September.

Step 1

Select a planting location for the Northwind grass that has full to partial sunlight and a soil that drains well. The grass will grow in a dry soil but prefers moist sand or clay-based soil.

Step 2

Water the grass plant during the growing season when the rainfall amounts are less than 1 inch per week. The plant is tolerant of both dry and wet conditions as long as the roots are not saturated in standing water.

Step 3

Fertilize Northwind grass plants with a low-nitrogen fertilizer during the growing season once they become established. High nitrogen can burn young growth and inhibit the production of beneficial mycorrhizal fungi in the soil.

Step 4

Burn the grass every 3 to 5 years with a controlled fire just before new growth begins in the spring. This will rejuvenate the grass and increase the plant's vigor.

Step 5

Cut or mow the grass to the ground in late fall. The grass will grow back in spring once the soil begins to warm.

Step 6

Propagate Northwind grass by collecting seeds before they drop from the plant. Plant the seeds directly into the ground at a depth of 1/4 to 1/2 an inch. The seeds will germinate and sprout in the spring once the ground warms above 68 degree F. The grass can also be divided by breaking the root ball into sections; however it may be difficult to break apart the shallow tough roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Low-nitrogen fertilizer
  • Water hose
  • Mower


  • FloriData: Panicum virgatum
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Panicum virgatum
  • North Creek Nurseries: Panicum virgatum
Keywords: grow northwinds grass, grow switch grass, plant northwinds grass

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.