Panicum virgatum “Rotstrahlbusch” is a well-behaved grass in the garden, with attractive colors. (Richie Steffens / Great Plant Picks)

Panicum virgatum “Rotstrahlbusch” is a well-behaved grass in the garden, with attractive colors. (Richie Steffens / Great Plant Picks)

Great plant picks

Panicum virgatum “Rotstrahlbusch” is one of the best red-foliaged grasses for the landscape. It has a more compact habit and upright form than other switch grass selections, only growing to about 3 feet tall. The red tones on the leaf blades hold from early summer through fall, climaxing to rich crimson in autumn. This perennial, deciduous grass creates a fine-textured clump and is topped with a haze of beautiful burgundy seed heads in late summer. It is a well-behaved grass and will not seed around in the garden, making it an excellent substitute for the more aggressive spreading Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica “Rubra”). Mix with warm colors like orange and red, or go for a contrast with brilliant purples. It makes a good specimen but also creates a bold statement in a drift. It is a great companion for fall-blooming asters and sedums. The German cultivar name translates loosely as “red-ray-bush.”

Size: 3 feet high by 2 feet wide.

Where: full sun

Water: occasional watering

— Richie Steffens, Great Plant Picks

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