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Illinois Native Plant Guide - Switch Grass - Pages 104-105

Illinois Native Plant Guide

Switch Grass
Panicum virgatum

Preferred Water Depth and Inundation Tolerance

Occurs in mesic prairie and buffer slopes. Species has some tolerance of early spring inundation. Drought tolerant.

Wildlife Value

Seeds and young foliage provide food for teal, widgeon, and black duck. Seeds are a food source for many songbirds and small mammals. Provides cover for most wildlife.


Used for streambank and upland slope buffer stabilization.

Availability, Establishment, and Maintenance

  • Widely available as seed or plants.
  • Best seed germination results with alternating temperatures. Requires light for germination.
  • Seeds have an 80% germination rate at 70o F with no treatments but will germinate at cooler temperatures.
  • Has slow rate of spread by rhizome. Plant on 0.5-1.5 foot centers.

Switch Grass
Panicum virgatum

Mature Height
Up to 6.5 feetSwitch Grass

Plant Type
Perennial grass

Indicator Status
Facultative (+)

Not available

Nutrient Load Tolerance
Low to moderate

Salt Tolerance

Siltation Tolerance
Low to moderate

Flowering Color and Time
July to October

Light Preference
Full sun

Seeding Rate
.25 - 1 lb/acre

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