Switchgrass Northwind named 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

Switchgrass Northwind named 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year

Photo of Switchgrass Fall Color

Switchgrass Fall Color

Switchgrass Northwind has swept its way to the top as the Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial Plant of the Year for 2014. The Northwind cultivar of Panicum virgatum is distinguished by starkly upright habit compared to the original species.

Northwind provides landscape interest from late summer through winter. Blooms appear in late summer, followed by upright seed heads and golden fall foliage. In winter, enjoy the musical swishing sounds as the sturdy foliage sways in the breeze. Northwind is a fast grower, reaching about 5 feet tall by the time it blooms in late summer.

Switchgrass is a warm-season perennial grass native to most of the continental U.S. While it thrives best in full sun and moist, fertile soil, it adapts well to a wide range of growing conditions, except heavy clay. Once established, Switchgrass can be quite drought tolerant, as well as tolerant to periodic flooding. The foliage can be left standing during winter to reduce soil erosion and provide food and cover for wildlife, such as pheasant, quail, turkey and songbirds. Cut the foliage back to about 3-4 inches before the new growth begins in spring.

The Perennial Plant Association selects a different perennial plant each year to promote throughout the nursery and gardening industry. PPA members nominate plants based on several criteria, including low maintenance needs, adaptability to a wide range of climates, pest and disease resistance, wide availability, multiple seasons of interest and ease of propagation. A selection committee then narrows the field to three or four choices from which the members cast their votes.

Previous PPA Perennial Plant of the Year winners:

  • 2013 Polygonatum odoratum variegatum
  • 2012 Brunnera macrophylla Jack Frost
  • 2011 Amsonia hubrichtii
  • 2010 Baptisia australis
  • 2009 Hakonechloa macra Aureola
  • 2008 Geranium Rozanne
  • 2007 Nepeta Walker’s Low
  • 2006 Dianthus gratianopolitanus Feuerhexe
  • 2005 Helleborus x hybridus
  • 2004 Athyrium niponicum pictum
  • 2003 Leucanthemum Becky
  • 2002 Phlox David
  • 2001 Calamagrostis x acutiflora Karl Foerster
  • 2000 Scabiosa columbaria Butterfly Blue
  • 1999 Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii Goldsturm
  • 1998 Echinacea purpurea Magnus
  • 1997 Salvia Mainacht (May Night)
  • 1996 Penstemon digitalis Husker Red
  • 1995 Perovskia atriplicifolia
  • 1994 Astilbe Sprite
  • 1993 Veronica Sunny Border Blue
  • 1992 Coreopsis verticillata Moonbeam
  • 1991 Heuchera micrantha Palace Purple
  • 1990 Phlox stolonifera

For more information on the Perennial Plant of the Year program, see https://perennialplant.org/page/PPOY.


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