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New Wave of Blue

New Wave of Blue

 In the world of ornamental grasses it is always exciting to find a new one that suits the climate in which we live. Like a bee searching for pollen I get a sense of anticipation from obtaining a new grass that I can add to the stable of grasses we have already. But the real buzz  comes from planting them and watching as they perform in their new environment - our garden. 

It’s 41 degrees celsius outside as I sit down to write this blog. January in Australia!!

Staring out my window I am drawn to the increasing beauty of the upright blue green foliage of the Panicum amarum planted on the right hand side of my driveway.

This grass doesn’t seem in the least perturbed by the heat of mid-Summer. All it has taken to this point is a little watering at establishment. I am very impressed by it’s resilience to drought and heat as well as it’s stature and colour. Above the glaucus foliage the first inflorescence of soft tiny beads on long stalks is appearing like sparks from a welders torch.  

After growing Panicum amarum for a little over 18 months this tough performer is sending it’s roots deep down into becoming one of our most exciting additions. Ok! I am hooked.

Where can I use this plant again? How can it be used in combination? What plants would work well together with Coastal Switchgrass?

Fortunately we have grown a big batch of these beauties this year so there are plenty to use in endless possibilities.


Native to the southern states of America, Coastal Switchgrass is used in many aspects of horticulture from land reclamation to ornamental horticulture and biomass production. It is completely herbaceous in the winter, beautifully yellow in the autumn and blue green in the summer.

At around the 1m mark in height the versatility of Panicum amarum is exceptional. There is an improved cultivar of Panicum amarum called “Dewey Blue” which reputedly has exceptionally glaucous and grey-blue leaves but to this date is not available in Australia. So we will make most of what we have and wait for the day when “Dewey Blue” hits our shores.........

Words and images by Rob Willis

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