Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ 2014 Plant of the Year™

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ takes the spotlight as the 2014 Perennial Plant of the Year™ awarded by the Perennial Plant Association©.

Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farm introduced Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ in the early 1990s. It came from seed he collected in 1982 near railroad tracks off of Highway 25 in South Elgin, Illinois. As the seedlings grew, Roy noticed one unusual plant growing upright, rather than arching, with beautiful blue-green leaves.

Roy says this about his find: “I think the habit of this plant with its distinct upright growth habit, its durable lifestyle, and appreciated architectural essence has helped it find a welcomed place in many gardens. This is one of uncountable naturally occurring hybrids that occur with all native plants…we just need to keep our eyes open.”

We salute Roy Diblik for his keen eye, and for offering ‘Northwind’ to the nursery world. In addition to this plant’s lovely physical attributes, it is drought tolerant and not finicky about soil conditions. It also tolerates wet feet, making it a stylish choice for rain gardens. Foliage turns brilliant gold in fall. And like most switchgrasses, it’s tough as nails. ‘Northwind’ fits into smaller mixed plantings, where it provides an upright, visual accent.

Fall color on Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'Each year, the Perennial Plant Association© chooses a plant that stands out among perennials. Winners are selected for their ability to perform well in a wide range of growing climates, for low maintenance needs, multiple-season interest, and for being relatively pest/disease-free. Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’ is the third grass to receive this award.

Just in time, we have liners available in 18s and 32s. Landscapers can direct plant now and well into fall. Growers can pot up to gallons for fall sales or go larger and overwinter for spring. We will have more crops ready in early fall, including 50s. Check current availability. Get quick facts, grower and landscaping tips, and more photos for ‘Northwind’ on our plant profile page.

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