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Your neighbors might call 911 when they see this fiery Fringe in your landscape! Shenandoah Switch Grass emerges a cool blue-green color, but in summer it develops blazing red tips. When the sun shines through them, they glow like hot coals. As the season progresses, the show gets even better, as the rest of the plant begins to take on rich, burgundy-red tones. Delicate dark red plumes appear in late summer to add a nice textural contrast. Use this head-turning Fringe to bring a burst of color to your entryway garden, patio plantings, or any of the beds and borders around your home.
Americans were slow to appreciate the charms of Ornamental Grasses in the garden. Only after European nurserymen and women paved the way did we learn to embrace the use of Fringes in the landscape. In many cases, even plants native to the U.S. were ignored in this country, while they were adored overseas! Such was the case with Switch Grass. Shenandoah Switch Grass was introduced by a German nurseryman, Dr. Hans Simon, who selected it from 500 seedlings he grew from another German variety called ‘Haense Herms’. Dr. Simon named the plant ‘Shenandoah’ in reference to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia—far from its German origins, but much closer to its true homeland.
Shenandoah Switch Grass is a compact grower and one of the smallest Switch Grasses you can buy. It can fit into any landscape, no matter how tiny. You can even keep it in a container as a vibrant, portable color spot.
How to Grow
Shenandoah 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. Shenandoah 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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