Panicum amarum 'Dewey Blue'

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Photo Courtesy of Walters Gardens, Inc.
 Common Name: Grass-Ornamental
Common Name (Alternative): Bitter Switch Grass

Selected by internationally renowned ornamental grass expert Rick Darke for its showy blue color and beautiful fountain-like habit, this grass offers a very long season of interest in the garden.

The glaucous grey-green to grey-blue leaves have an upright arching habit, which makes it a choice focal point or specimen for the center of the border.  The height and habit of this plant varies depending on the soil fertility and available moisture.  It is more upright and shorter in less fertile, drier soils. 

In late summer or early fall (depending on your climate), strong, upright to arching stems are topped by light, airy, blue-tinged flowers followed by tan seed panicles which continue to provide visual interest well into the winter months.

'Dewey Blue' was named for a Delaware beach town, Dewey, by Rick Darke.

Panicum amarum is a native grass that is naturally found in the sandy coastal soils from Delaware to Florida and west to northeastern Mexico.  It is used extensively to help stabilize sand dunes and thus grows best in dry, sandy soils.  This grass is very low maintenance and easy to grow, making it a great choice for busy homeowners or beginning gardeners.

Breeder: Rick Darke

Origin: Native Cultivar


  3-5 Feet
  2-3 Feet
Flower Color:
  Tan shades
Foliage Color:
  Blue shades
Hardiness Zone:
Find Your Zone
Sun or Shade?:
  Full sun (> 6 hrs. direct sun)
Wet or dry?:
  Low water needs
  Average water needs
Need critter resistant plants?:
  Deer resistant
How fast should it grow?:
When should it bloom?:
  Late summer
  Early fall
How's your soil?:
  Average Soil
  Fertile Soil
Sweet or Sour Soil?:
  Acidic Soil (pH < 7.0)
  Neutral Soil (pH = 7.0)
What's your garden style?:


Border plants
Cut flower or foliage
Drought Tolerant
Mass Planting
Salt Tolerant
Specimen or focal point
Easy to grow

Homeowner Growing & Maintenance Tips:

This grass is native to coastlines where the soil is sandy, dry, and infertile and the climate is sunny.  Therefore, it grows best in these conditions.  However, it will also grow in average to loamy soils with dry to average moisture levels.  It does not perform well in clay or wet soils. 

Panicum is wind and salt tolerant, making it a good choice for seaside gardens or along roads that are salted in winter.  No serious pests or diseases are known to effect this plant.  Propagate it by division in spring after cutting the dried foliage back to ground level.


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While every effort has been made to describe this plant accurately, please keep in mind that the height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates throughout the country. The description of this plant was written based on our experience growing it in Michigan (USDA hardiness zone 5) and on numerous outside resources.