How to Garden Shenandoah Switch Grass


Native to North America, Shenandoah switch grass (Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah') is a perennial ornamental grass that grows in clumps with dark green blades. Shenandoah Switch Grass flowers in the summer and the leaves turn dark-reddish toward the end of summer and into the fall. Growing up to 4 feet tall, this low-maintenance plant grows best in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 through 9, meaning that it can withstand minimum winter temperatures down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit. You can grow Shenandoah Switch Grass in containers, or outdoors planted individually or in mass beds.

Step 1

Plant your Shenandoah switch grass in partial to full sunlight. Work into the soil some organic compost prior to planting if your soil is nutrient-poor.

Step 2

Dig a planting hole that is the same depth as and 1 ½ times the width of the nursery container. Remove the Shenandoah switch grass from its container and set the roots into the planting hole.

Step 3

Backfill the planting hole and tamp down the soil gently with your hands. Water the soil deeply to soak it down to the root zone.

Step 4

Water the grass deeply once or twice each week during the first growing season after planting it. After the first year, water the Shenandoah switch grass deeply only during prolonged dry spells or droughts during the summer.

Step 5

Cut the Shenandoah switch grass back in late winter or early spring. Remove all the old leaves to encourage the new growth to emerge.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you're planting the Shenandoah switch grass in grouped clumps, space the plants at least 18 inches apart to allow enough room for the grass to spread out and grow.

Things You'll Need

  • Shenandoah switch grass
  • Shovel
  • Organic compost (optional)
  • Garden hose or watering can
  • Pruning shears or scissors


  • Red Butte Garden -- The University of Utah: Shenandoah Switch Grass
  • NC Cooperative Extension: Switch Grass

Who Can Help

  • Monrovia: Shenandoah Switch Grass -- Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'
  • High Country Gardens: Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'
Keywords: plant Shenandoah switch grass, Shenandoah switchgrass, grow Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.