Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'

This grass can easily be mistaken for Japanese Blood grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'). The leaf tips turn red soon after it starts to grow in the spring. In fall the foliage is a spectacular deep burgundy color.

We carry three Panicums that have red foliage in the fall. Here are the differences between 'Shenandoah', 'Squaw' and 'Rotstrahlbusch':

  • 'Shenandoah' and 'Squaw' have a cascading form, while 'Rotstrahlbusch' is distinctly upright
  • 'Shenandoah' and 'Squaw' are the same height while 'Rotstrahlbusch' is smaller
  • leaves of 'Rotstrahlbusch' are slightly narrower than 'Shenandoah' and 'Squaw'
  • the foliage of 'Shenandoah' starts green with the leaf tips turning dark red leaf in early June; 'Squaw' is green until fall when they turn burgundy; leaves of 'Rotstrahlbusch' are tinged with red all growing season, turning red in the fall
  • the fall color of 'Shenandoah' and 'Squaw' is burgundy; 'Rotstrahlbusch' is red
  • all three have burgundy seedheads

Description: warm season*; sod forming (slow spreader)
Foliage is green; blade is 13 mm wide ( 1/2"); tips turn a deep red in the summer; 100-120 cm (40-48")
Flowers tinged with pink; 125-150 cm (50-60")

Ideal conditions: full sun; prefers moist fertile soil, but adapts to a wide range of soil conditions

Coldest zone: 4 (find your zone; further info on plant hardiness)

Partner with: Monarda bradburiana, Eupatorium cannabinum, Andropogon 'New Wave'

Season of interest: June to winter

Drought tolerance rating: 2 (water to root depth once every 2 weeks); further info

The species is native to: prairies and open ground, open woods, brackish marshes from eastern Canada to central and eastern US and south to Central America.

Recommended plant spacing: 60-100 cm (24-40") why such a difference?

When to divide: when it shows signs of life in the spring, continuing until the new growth is about 12" tall; only in the spring (further info on dividing grasses)

When to plant or transplant: plant bare root plants only in late spring to early summer, when the soil is warm, about the same time you plant your bean or corn seeds. The roots will grow only in warm soil. Planting too early in the spring may cause the roots to rot. Similar story in the fall when the roots may not grow enough to establish before the cold and wet of winter, resulting in the demise of the plant.

When to cut back: before the new growth starts to appear, but after the cold weather is over. Cut back to about 3-4" from the crown of the plant.

Pronounciation: Panicum (PAN-ih-kum) virgatum (veer-GAH-tum)


*a warm season grass likes to grow in warm weather. Before it will show signs of life in the spring, the soil must warm up, and be warm for possibly as long as two weeks.

More ornamental grasses

Compare Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' to our other grasses in this handy chart.


Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah'


from the USDA website: states and provinces where
Panicum virgatum is native