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A warm season grass, Coastal panic grass is an excellent choice for stormwater management projects.

A warm season grass, Coastal panic grass is an excellent choice for stormwater management projects. USDA, NRCS. 2012. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 9 October 2012). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Panicum amarum 'Dewey Blue'

Atlantic coastal panic grass

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:  Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’ is a rhizomatous warm season grass cultivar.  This lovely perennial has a fountain like habit and frosty blue green linear leaves.  In fall fertile culms are topped by airy straw colored flower panicles that persist into winter.  This cultivar is adaptable but is especially useful for difficult hot dry sandy sites.

HABITAT & HARDINESS:  The parent species Panicum amarum occurs in the eastern United States in sandy coastal areas, sandy margins of swamps, brackish marshes and disturbed railroad right of ways.  The species occurs on high dunes and plays an important part in dune stabilization. 

The range of Panicum amarum extends from Connecticut south to Florida and west to Louisiana and Texas.

This original ‘Dewey Blue’ was found by Rick Darke growing in a sand dune near Dewey, Delaware.  The cultivar was selected for its attractive glaucous bluish foliage, consistent height and fountain-like growth habit.

This grass is hardy from USDA Zones 3-9.

PLANT DESCRIPTION:  Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’ is a clump forming perennial grass that expands slowly from short rhizomes.

Foliage is glaucous blue-green to silvery blue with smooth arching blades less than ½” wide.

Narrow 12-15” airy bluish flower panicles are held above the foliage on erect stems in late summer.   Tan seedheads appear after the flowers.

Plants attain 3-4’ height with 2-3’ spread.

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS:  Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’ prospers in sunny average to dry sites.  This low maintenance cultivar expands slowly by rhizomes.

Plants perform well in infertile dry sandy sites but may flop in moist overly rich soils.  Like the parent, this cultivar tolerates drought, excess salinity, acid or slightly alkaline pH, clay soils, controlled burns, seasonal flooding and difficult sites adjacent to black walnuts. 

‘Dewey Blue’ is pest resistant and unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.

Plants are practically maintenance free but should be cut back in early spring to remove tattered growth and make room for new leaves.

LANDSCAPE USES:  Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’ is useful for Rain Gardens and Erosion Control.  The unique blue foliage provides Winter Interest and allows the cultivar to serve as a handsome Accent.  The airy inflorescences and seed clusters are suitable Cut Flowers.  Plants are often installed as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting in Coastal Gardens, Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Landscapes, Meadow Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders or Wildlife Gardens.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS:  Try pairing Panicum amarum ‘Dewey Blue’ with Baptisia tinctoria, Coreopsis tripteris, Liatris microcephala, Monarda punctata, Penstemon digitalis, Rudbeckia maxima, Solidago sempervirens or Verbena hastata.

Muhlenbergia capillaris has similar cultural needs and can be substituted in dune communities if needed. Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Standing Ovation’ has similar blue foliage and could substitute in dry sunny garden situations.

TRIVIA:   Panicum amarum is an early colonizing species that tolerates the harsh conditions of the dune system including salt spray, storm surges, inundation by water and sand, high temperatures, drought and sterile soil.  ‘Dewey Blue’ is resilient and adaptable like the parent species.

The foliage provides cover for wildlife and several species of birds feed on the seedheads.


Height:

3-4 ft

Spread:

2-3 ft

Spacing:

3-4 ft

USDA Hardiness Zone:

3-9

Bloom Color:

Blue, Tan

Panicum amarum 'Dewey Blue' Characteristics

Exposure

  • Full Sun

Critter Resistance

  • Deer Resistant

Attracts Wildlife

  • Pollinators

Soil Moisture Preference

  • Dry

Attributes

  • Naturalizing
  • Interesting Foliage
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Coastal

Flowering Months

  • July

Foliage Color

  • Blue

Growth Rate

  • Fast

Grass Season

  • Warm Season Grass

Salt Tolerance

  • Medium

Interesting Notes:

This original ‘Dewey Blue’ was found by Rick Darke growing in a sand dune near Dewey, Delaware.  The cultivar was selected for its attractive glaucous bluish foliage, consistent height and fountain-like growth habit.


Plants that work well with Panicum amarum 'Dewey Blue'

Sea shore goldenrod Sea shore goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)
Blue vervain Blue vervain (Verbena hastata)
Yellow wild indigo Yellow wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria)
Tall coreopsis Tall coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris)
Appalachian blazing star Appalachian blazing star (Liatris microcephala)
Horsemint Horsemint (Monarda punctata)
Beard tongue Beard tongue (Penstemon digitalis)
Giant coneflower Giant coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima)
Anise Hyssop Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Substitutions for Panicum amarum 'Dewey Blue'

Pink hair grass Pink hair grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)