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Coastal Switchgrass Panicum amarum

Phonetic Spelling
PAN-ih-kum a-MAHR-um
Description

Bitter switchgrass is a warm-season ornamental perennial beach grass in the Poaceae family. It is native to sandy dunes and shores in coastal areas from Connecticut to Florida to Texas. Var. amarulum can be found in the same areas, as well as sandflats and sandhills  It prefers well-drained, dry to medium moisture soils performing well even in infertile sandy loams. This plant is used as a dune stabilizer along the southern NC coast.

It is a clumping grass and spreads by rhizomes.  Cut it back to the ground in late winter to early spring to maintain an attractive shape. It naturalizes easily in the landscape or makes a great addition to a rain garden, or border. It is low water use, low maintenance plant that tolerates dry soils, drought, and air pollution.  This grass is also highly salt tolerant.

Seasons of Interest:

    Bloom: Fall-Winter, September- Feb

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious insect or disease problems. Too much organic material added to the soil can cause it to flop over. It tolerates light shade, but begins to lose form in too much shade, growing more openly and possibly falling over. 

Propagation: Rhizomes

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Dewey Blue'
'Dewey Blue'
Tags:
#rain garden#drought tolerant#salt tolerant#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#meadow#air pollution tolerant#erosion control#highly beneficial coastal plants#NC native#borders#native ornamental grass#food source herbage#coastal FAC#native sedge#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Dewey Blue'
'Dewey Blue'
Tags:
#rain garden#drought tolerant#salt tolerant#low maintenance#winter interest#fall interest#meadow#air pollution tolerant#erosion control#highly beneficial coastal plants#NC native#borders#native ornamental grass#food source herbage#coastal FAC#native sedge#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#mammals#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#Piedmont Mountains FACU#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Panicum
    Species:
    amarum
    Family:
    Poaceae
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Native to North America, Mexico
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ornamental Grasses and Sedges
    Perennial
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Clumping
    Dense
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Caryopsis
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are available August-December.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Description:
    Flowers bloom July-November.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Winter Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion
    Pollution
    Salt