Plant Encyclopedia

Heavy Metal Blue Switch Grass

Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’

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Heavy Metal Blue Switch Grass, blue and green tall grass with seeds at the top

Discover More Information On Heavy Metal Blue Switch Grass

If you want a native grass that distinguishes itself from other elements in your yard, take a look at the Heavy Metal blue switch grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’). This grass is known for its stiff, metallic blue blades that retain a vertical appearance all year long. The Heavy Metal blue switch grass is a solid piece that you need for your landscape.

Plant Attributes

You can find the parent species of this plant throughout the United States. It is indigenous to savannas, rocky bluffs, forested woods, and prairies. The Heavy Metal was introduced in the 1980s, and it is known for its columnar habit and metallic bluish foliage. This switch grass has a narrow upright habit that produces upright clumps.

The Heavy Metal switch grass is also called the blue switch grass. This species has a striking blue leaf color that lasts throughout the year. The erect growth habit is stable and will not fall over during those heavy rains. While the steel blue foliage dazzles your yard, pinkish flower panicles extend above the foliage in the late summer. The foliage transforms into a golden color by autumn. For winter, the leaves develop into a golden brown tone. The Heavy Metal seed heads stay around throughout the winter, and they provide your landscape with some added interest. You can expect this switch grass to grow about 3 feet tall and 2 feet in width. The blooms rise about 5 inches above the foliage.

Landscape Use

This switch grass takes your landscape to the next level. When the sun hits the flowers, the light bounces off the plant. You can use the Heavy Metal switch grass throughout your landscape. It is an excellent choice as an accent piece or mass planting. Since it has a short stature and stiff narrow habit, the Heavy Metal is an ideal plant for those small residential gardens. In those landscapes with perennial borders, you can use this switch grass as an accent. The Heavy Metal is tolerant of many growing conditions. You might consider planting it in a city landscape for a green roof or urban meadow.

The height of the Heavy Metal is the perfect choice for a low screen in your yard. When you add several of these grasses together, they really shine in a mass planting. Due to its erect shape, the Heavy Metal adds some structure to your garden design.

Planting & Care

The Heavy Metal requires little maintenance from you. It can thrive in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9. This grass excels in sunny gardens with most types of soils. However, it does have a preference for clay or sandy soils. You can grow this switch grass in partial shade, but you will not see great results in the garden. The stems will become limp and lose their columnar form without the proper amount of sun. Abundant water, heavy fertilization, and rich soils should be avoided. These conditions can also cause the stems to weaken.

The Heavy Metal blue switch grass is a perennial, and it is a great choice to provide cover and food for the local wildlife. Since it is a native natural grass, it can tolerate many growing conditions. If you want to maintain this switch grass, it does need to be burned or cut down to the ground in the late winter. By the spring, you should see new growth emerging from the clumps.

Additional Information

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Heavy Metal Blue Switch Grass


The Heavy Metal is known for its metallic blue foliage and strong upright habit. Even during the heaviest rains, this grass retains its shape in your landscape. By July, you can enjoy the pink-tinted blooms that appear above the blue foliage. This particular switch grass is a versatile choice for your yard. It will look great as a focal point for a specimen or create a stunning look in a mass planting. The Heavy Metal is tolerant of droughts and does best in full sun. If you want to choose the most well-known switch grass for your space, make sure to select the Heavy Metal.

At Arbor Valley Nursery, we can help you get this switch grass for your next landscaping project. Our team has the expertise to find the right plants, trees, shrubs, or grasses for your outdoor spaces. If you want to purchase this grass or learn some more information about it, please fill out the contact form.

Plant Features

  • Plant Type: Grass
  • Watering Needs: Water regularly – weekly, or more often in extreme heat.
  • Botanical Pronunciation: PAN-ih-kum vir-GA-tum
  • Deciduous/evergreen: Herbaceous
  • Growth rate: Fast
  • Average landscape size: Forms tight, upright clump; quickly reaches 3-4’ tall and 1.5-2’ wide.
  • Special features: Clump Forming, Dramatic Foliage Color, Easy Care, Extreme Cold Hardiness, Fall Color, North American Native Selection, Tolerates Wet Soils, Waterwise, Year-round Interest, Fast Growing, Bird Friendly
  • Dramatic Foliage: Color, Easy Care
  • Foliage color: Gray-green
  • Blooms: Late Summer
  • Flower color: Pink
  • Flower attributes: Showy Flowers
  • Garden style: Contemporary, Rustic
  • Design Ideas: A very adaptable and effective erosion-control plant in windy areas. Looks good and provides nutritious habitat for birds and small animals around water holes and water gardens. Attaining its lovely wheat coloring in autumn, it looks beautiful against the season’s bright reds. Plant as a single clump in beds and borders.
  • Companion Plants: Bluebird, Raydon’s Favorite, Prairie Munchkin

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