Transitioning the conventional suburban landscape at the Philadelphia Navy Yard into an ecologically healthy, beautiful and natural area has been the primary goal for Tim Majoros, Associate Director of Public Landscapes at PHS. Tim and his team selected a palette of native plants to replace invasives. One of his favorites, Andropogon gerardii ‘Red October’, is a native cool-season grass that will work as well at home in a private landscape as it does on a larger scale at the Navy Yard.
Tim appreciates this perennial for its growing ease and tolerance of a wide range of soils and growing conditions. This plant produces a lot of growth in fertile soil, but is still adaptable to drier, infertile soils. It develops an extensive root system and has outstanding drought tolerance. “’Red October’ is ideal at the Navy Yard,” says Majoros. “It doesn’t require any input, and its leaves emerge gray to blue-green in the spring, turn to green with red highlights in the summer, and change to purplish-red in late summer. By fall, after the first frost, ‘Red October’ turns a vivid scarlet red,” he explains. Perfect for borders or buffer areas, this grass will grow to 6 feet in height and up to 3 feet in width. Additionally, this easy-going plant will tolerate deer, drought, erosion, and dry soil, as well as proximity to black walnut trees.
Consider adding this gorgeous, resilient native to your home landscape this season. Plant ‘Red October’ now through Thanksgiving.