Heavy Metal Switchgrass
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Imagine the frosty blue blades of Heavy Metal Switch Grass bringing cool highlights to the beds and borders around your home. This popular Fringe delights with its steely blue foliage. It also features airy pink plumes that arise in late summer, bringing a feeling of lightness and delicacy to the garden. Heavy Metal’s formal, upright habit provides valuable structure, too. Nothing keeps this sturdy Fringe down—not wind or rain or hail or errant soccer balls—it just springs back into place. If you’re not a fan of Heavy Metal now, you will be once you witness a performance in your own backyard!
- Hardiness Zone: 5-9
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Switch Grass is a part of our natural American heritage—a noble, strong-growing Fringe that once stood proudly on the prairies of the Great Plains. This particular selection was introduced by the late Kurt Bluemel, a Maryland nurseryman who had quite a story of his own. Born in the Czechoslovakia in 1933, Bluemel and his family had to flee his home when he was thirteen when the Communists took power. They escaped to Germany, where he was put to work on a farm and later at a nursery to help support his displaced family. He eventually had great success as a nurseryman in the U.S. and was instrumental in popularizing Ornamental Grasses here.
Like most of the blue-leaved Switch Grasses, Heavy Metal turns a wonderful, warm golden yellow in the fall. The foliage eventually fades to a parchment color, and the plant remains intact well into the winter.
How to Grow
Heavy Metal Switch Grass is bulletproof. Simply plant it in a sunny location in any type of soil and provide regular irrigation during the establishment period. Once it has put down roots, it will be fairly drought tolerant. Heavy Metal is also tolerant of periodic flooding, making it a good component in a rain garden. Icy weather doesn’t faze it either—ice may flatten it temporarily, but as soon as it melts, this perky Fringe pops right back up again. In late winter or early spring, cut back the old growth with manual or electric hedge trimmers or a bow saw to clear the way for new growth. Be patient—Switch Grass is one of the last plants to emerge in spring.
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