Knoll Gardens launches new Panicum

Panicum ‘Merlot’, like many a fine wine of the same name, has been some years in the making.

Panicum Merlot

For more than a decade Knoll has been trialling seedling selections of the prairie switch grass, Panicum virgatum, with the aim of producing a selection that will not only perform well in the variable UK climate, but also offer reliable red toned foliage as well as flower. Following the last few years of final evaluation Panicum ‘Merlot’ is now available to UK gardeners.

Panicum ‘Merlot’ retains the same characteristically upright habit of most switch grasses, producing generous mounds of bright green leaves that start to turn shades of wine coloured red and purple tints from summer time onwards. As autumn approaches, and topped by masses of tiny cloud like reddish-purple flowers, the foliage deepens and intensifies into myriad luscious shades of reds, burgundy and purples in an autumnal extravaganza of colour that is almost good enough to drink.   

Growing to around 1.2 to 1.5m high, Panicum ‘Merlot’ performs best in an open sunny position, and while tolerant of many soil types it will dislike a soil that is too winter wet.