How is grass seed harvested?

Pampas Grass

Circular 983 View PDF picture_as_pdf

Gary L. Wade, Extension Horticulturist
Department of Horticulture

Pampas grass, Cortaderia selloana, is a large perennial grass native to Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Mature plants can reach 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. In late summer, silvery-white plumes rise several feet above the foliage and make a bold, dramatic statement in the landscape.

Today there are many pampas grass cultivars in the nursery trade. Some have pinkish-white plumes, while others have silvery-white plumes, variegated foliage or a dwarf growth habit. See Table 1 for a list of several common cultivars.

Dwarf pampas grass
Photo: Jeff WebbSilver Comet pampas grass
Photo: RP SeedsPink Feather pampas grass

Pampas grass bears male and female flowers on separate plants. The plumes of female plants are broad and full due to silky hairs covering the tiny flowers. They are much showier than the plumes of male plants, which lack silky hairs on their flowers. For that reason, most pampas grass is propagated vegetatively, by dividing a female clump. Propagation from seed can result in genetic variability and the less attractive male form. When propagated from seed, there is no way to know whether the plant is male or female until it flowers.

When used correctly in the landscape, pampas grass is an attractive and functional plant, particularly in groups of three to five plants in the background of a perennial border. It is a great plant for stabilizing erodible banks. It also can be used as a focal point in the landscape, providing color and textural contrast to nearby plants. However, avoid planting pampas grass close to buildings because it can be a fire hazard when old foliage dies and becomes dry.

Pampas grass grows and flowers best in full sun, or at least a half day of direct sunlight. Once established, it is low-maintenance, drought tolerant, deer tolerant and has few pest problems. It also tolerates salt spray, making it an ideal plant for coastal landscapes.

Foreground: male pampas grass
Background: female pampas grass

Common pampas grass is hardy in zone 8 (Coastal Plain), and is marginally hardy in zones 6 and 7 (Piedmont region). In the upper Piedmont and mountainous areas of north Georgia, consider planting more cold-hardy cultivars (see Table 1 and Figure 1).

Prune pampas grass annually to remove the previous year?s foliage and make way for new growth. Pruning is best done in late winter, prior to the new growing season. Use hedge shears, lopping shears or power pruners to cut the plant back close to ground level. Be sure to wear a long-sleeve shirt and gloves when pruning to protect yourself from the sharp leaf blades.

After pruning, apply a light, broadcast application of a complete fertilizer, like 8-8-8 or 10-10-10, to help stimulate new growth.

Pampas grass plumes are highly prized for indoor floral arrangements. Harvest flowers as soon as they have fully emerged, but before they are mature and shedding. They can be used in dried arrangements immediately after harvesting or dried for later use. Spray the plumes with hair spray before using them in arrangements to help prevent shedding.

Pampas grass is an invasive plant in parts of California, Australia, New Zealand and some of the Hawaiian Islands; however, it is not an invasive plant in the Southeast.

Table 1. Some pampas grass cultivars in the nursery trade.
Cultivar Name Characteristics
‘Andes Silver’ Silvery white plumes up to 7 feet tall. Hardy to zone 6.
‘Bertini’ Compact growth, under 4 feet tall. Hardy to zone 7.
‘Gold Band’ Golden-striped foliage. More compact and erect than ‘Monvin.’ Grows 4 to 6 feet tall. Hardy to zone 8
‘Monvin’ Yellow-striped leaves. Also marketed under the name Sunstripe. Hardy to zone 8.
‘Patagonia’ Silvery-white plumes up to 7 feet above foliage. Bluish gray-green foliage. Hardy to zone 6.
‘Pumila’ Compact form, growing 5 to 7 feet tall. Showy plumes rise above foliage. Hardy to zone 6.
‘Pink Feather’ Large plumes with a pink blush. Hardy to zone 8.
‘Silver Comet’ White-striped pampas grass. Grows to 8 feet tall. Hardy to zone 8.
‘Sundale Silver’ Silvery-white plumes, showier than the species. Grows to 10 feet tall. Hardy to zone 8.

Figure 1. Cold Hardiness zones in Georgia

Hardiness Zone Avg. Min.
Tem. (*F)
b 5 – 0
a – 5
b – 10
a 0 – 15
b 5 – 20

The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses. 1999. Rick Darke. Timber Press, OR. ISBN: 0-88192-464-4.

The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses. 1992. John Greenlee and Derek Fell, Michael Friedman Publishing Group, NY. ISBN: 0-87596-100-2.

Ornamental Grass Gardening. 1989. Thomas A. Reinhardt, Martina Reinhardt and Mark Moskowitz. Michael Friedman Publishing Group, NY. ISBN: 0-89586-745-1.

Status and Revision History
Published on Dec 16, 2009
Published with Full Review on Dec 01, 2012
Published with Full Review on Aug 07, 2017

Pampas Grass Seed Mix – Cortaderia Selloana Ornamental Grass Seeds

Grass Specifications

Season: Perennial

USDA Zones: 7 – 10

Height: 80 inches

Width: 48 inches

Foliage Color: Green

Flower Color: Mix

Growth Rate: Moderate

Fall Color: No change

Soil Requirement: Well-drained soils, pH 5.5 – 7.2

Environment: Full sun

Planting Directions

Temperature: 72F

Average Germ Time: 14 – 21 days

Light Required: Yes

Depth: These are very tiny seeds which should be mixed with finest sand or talcum for an even sowing. Do not cover with compost, only press them in gently

Sowing Rate: 5 seeds per plant

Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination

Plant Spacing: 80 inches

Pampas Grass Mix (Cortaderia selloana) – For a stately, tall ornamental grass that has a commanding presence, start Pampas Grass seeds, and enjoy its majestic beauty! This tall, ornamental grass is known for its silky, feathery plumes. Cortaderia selloana Pampas Grass will bloom for a long time in late summer and fall. Before the blooms are completely spent, many people choose to cut and dry the plumes for indoor use. This seed mix contains seeds for both white and pink Pampas Grass.

Pampas Grass is one of the largest ornamental grasses, and it is important to place the plants where they will have ample space, and they prefer a position in full sun. Ornamental Pampas Grass does require good drainage especially during the fall and winter. Ornamental grass care includes cutting out the brown, dead foliage in the late winter. Or, the entire plant can be cut back to 2 feet from the ground. The grass blades are sharp, so care must be taken when pruning.

How To Grow Pampas Grass From Ornamental Grass Seeds: Cortaderia selloana seeds can be started indoors. Using a seed starting tray filled with a pre-moistened seed starting medium that drains well, place the ornamental grass seeds on top of the soil and gently press the seeds in. Keep the Pampas Grass seeds moist until germination occurs. The ornamental grass plants will need to be re-potted into larger pots as they grow. Some gardeners start the Pampas Grass seeds directly outside in the spring after danger of frost has passed. Prepare a seedbed, and press the seeds into the soil that has been worked into a fine tilth. Keep the ornamental grass seeds moist, and throughout the first growing season, water the grass with regularity. In subsequent years, Pampas grass will be drought tolerant. Typically, plumes will not form until the plant is 2 – 3 years of age.

Pampas Grass: How To Grow Cortaderia Selloana

Are you interested in learning How You can Grow Pampas Grass in the easiest and best way ever possible?

Would you like to have a Step-by-Step Guide that is perfect for beginners?

Here, in this article, we will teach you how to grow and take care of Pampas Grass in the easiest way possible.

Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana) is a tall, good-looking perennial plant. It has a lot to offer in terms of function and form.

Pampas grass grows to a height ranging from ten to thirteen feet. An individual clump can spread up to six feet in width. Thus it acts as a privacy screen for your home.

Further, the stems of the ornamental grass are upright and stiff. The leaves of this plant have razor-sharp edges. Therefore it acts as an effective form of natural fencing.

The beauty of this plant matches easily with its practical applications. Cortaderia selloana plants have fluffy and large stalks of graceful flowers or plums. The flowers come in different shades of cream, pink and white during late summer.

In this article, we will see the factors that one needs to keep in mind when planting Pampas Grass. We will also advise you how and where you can plant this warm-season grass. keep reading to learn more.

Characteristics of pampas grass

Common Name(s) Pampas grass, cortadera, paina, tussock grass, pluma
Scientific Name Cortaderia
Family Poaceae
Origin South America (Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay)
Height 4-10 feet depending on the variety
Light Full sun to partial shade
Water Low to moderate
Temperature 65-90 °F
Humidity Tolerant to drought and can bear high humidity
Soil Well-drained sandy loam is most suitable, but also tolerates other soil types
Fertilizer None to balanced medium
Propagation By seed or division, maybe invasive
Pests None

Pampas Grass: Is It Hard To Grow?

Table of Contents

It is very easy to grow pampas grass. The plant grows just like a weed. It has been declared a noxious weed and an invasive species in California and Texas. It is banned in New Zealand and Hawaii.

Pampas grass is a self-sowing plant. It can also spread from traveling roots. It propagates quickly and can overtake your garden in a very short time if you are not careful!

Young plants can adapt to a variety of growing conditions. Once in place, they increase in width and size rapidly. Therefore it is advisable to think twice before planting pampas grass.

How Much Space is Necessary?

You must be sure to have plenty of room for growth. One must provide a minimum gap of six feet between plants. Pampas grass is flammable. Therefore make sure to plant it away from your home and other structures to prevent a fire hazard.

Best Location to Grow

For better results, select a location that receives plenty of sunlight to plant pampas grass.

Well-drained soil that uniformly remains moist is most suitable. In case if you are not able to provide this type of soil, don’t worry. Pampas grass plant is robust and can survive in a wide variety of conditions.

It can stand partial shade and different soil conditions.

Also, the ornamental grass is drought tolerant. It can also bear wind and salt, therefore, you can grow it in the seaside cottage garden!

This plume grass can grow nicely in a wide range of USDA zones (7 through 11). If you can plant it in a well-protected region, it will also thrive in Zone 6.

Steps To Take When Planting Pampas Grass

Here are a few easy steps to follow to plant pampas grass.

  • Pick a sunny, bright location. Also, drain the soil lightly.
  • Maintain a space of 6 to 8 feet around the plant so that it can grow properly.
  • Till the soil with the help of a tiller. Add some well-composted manure or organic compost to the soil.

  • Dig a proper sized hole in your soil. If the seedlings are in gallon containers, hole size should be nearly about seventeen inches wide and fifteen inches deep.
  • Remove the seedling from its container. Now, massage the root ball. This is done to separate the roots. Thus they will be able to absorb and hold moisture more easily.
  • Place your plant in the hole that you have dug. Now, cover the roots and bottom part with the soil that you have prepared.
  • Add plenty of water immediately. Keep the soil moist evenly as your pampas grass plant establishes itself. Once the plant establishes itself, you will only need to water well occasionally. Otherwise, the long roots of this plant will find the water needed from the ground.

Pampas Grass Maintenance: Taking Care Of Cortaderia

When you have a developed stand of this ornamental grass, you will find maintenance and care a simple task.

In cooler regions, when the growing season ends, wear your gloves and protective wear and tie together the leaves of the plant.

This move will help in protecting the plant against shock due to cold. If the area where you live freezes, you may wish to cover or wrap your plants when the temperature drops below the freezing point.

Pampas Grass Pruning

Just at the starting of the springtime, you should burn or prune the dead stalks of your plant right to the ground. This will never harm the roots, and it will make way for new, fresh growth.

Remember that the leaves of pampas grass are sharp as blades. They are quite sharp and may inflict quite a bit of injury upon contact. Always wear sturdy long sleeves and gloves to avoid being cut badly when pruning or handling these plants.

Does Pampas Grass Need Lots Of Fertilizer?

Pampas Grass plants need little or no fertilizer. If you wish, you can add fertilizer to the soil in the form 10-10-10 in the springtime after burning back dead growth or pruning. This will be helpful to stimulate springtime growth.

How Do You Propagate Pampas Grass?

After you burn back or prune your plants in the springtime, you can slice into the root clumps with the help of a sharp shovel. Just dig a shovelful of roots and relocate them to another area. Soon you shall have a whole new pampas plant.

Note that Pampas Grass comes in both female and male varieties. Plumes help us to tell the difference. The females have silkier, fuller, more attractive plumes. Female specimens are best to propagate the pampas grass plant.

How To Plant Pampas Grass Seeds

Pampas grass is recognized invasive in many places particularly because it is self-seeding. Pampas grass generates massive numbers of seeds each year. Its seeds can develop and make themselves at home in almost every type of soil.

The grass can spread without requiring any extra effort. The main point of circulation is to get your new plants at the place of your choice.

If you want to grow the ornamental grass from seed, it is very easy. directly Sow the seed in the soil during the springtime when frost is not a danger.

The seeds require sunlight to germinate. Therefore, you should sow it in an area that receives plenty of sunlight. Do no cover the seeds with soil. You may rake the soil gently before and after sowing in order to prevent the seed from being eaten by birds or blowing away.

When to Plant Pampas Grass Seeds

If you want, you can always sow the seeds in pots or in containers indoors a couple of months prior to the last predicted frost. Sow them gently on the surface of loose, well-drained soil.

Keep them well warm (around 70 degrees) and lit until they germinate. This should take roughly twenty to twenty-five days.

After all the threat of frost passes, relocate the seedlings to your garden. As with all the plants that are kept indoors during the winter periods, you may want to transplant your youngsters to the outdoor environment slowly.

Pests And Diseases

Surprisingly, there are very few problems with pampas grass. It may sometimes be subjected to helminthosporium leaf spot but otherwise, it is disease-free. The initial use of a fungicide to treat this will decrease the spread and limit further leaf losses in your plant.

Think Carefully Before Planting Pampas!

Pampas Grass is a very beautiful plant that adds beauty and elegance to any landscape.

Remember, if you are determined to plant it, you must keep its growth under control.

Later, if you change your mind, you’ll pretty much run out of luck. It is almost impossible to destroy once installed.

So, how to get rid of pampas grass?

If you choose to get rid of this grass, prepare for a struggle lasting for many years. Many have tried chopping it down or burning it down.

This only excites the grass to produce further growth or to “go underground.”

Keep in mind that this grass can expand through traveling roots, which grow deep in the ground. It’s these deep roots that allow the plant to sustain unfavorable conditions.

Some people have fortunately got rid of it with herbicides, but this is a destructive method. This plant is so robust that it will take many applications of poison to have some effect.

How fast Does Pampas Grass Grow?

It grows very quickly, even the varieties that grow slowly. From a pruned plant that is only 6-8 inches over the ground, it can comfortably reach heights of six feet or more during the year.

How can I harvest my own grass seed?

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Ornamental Grass Seed Propagation – Learn About Collecting Ornamental Grass Seeds

Ornamental grasses can be an excellent addition to flower beds and landscape borders. Coming in a wide range of shapes and sizes, their dramatic plumes and color can offer homeowners stunning visual interest when arranged with other ornamental plants. Their carefree growth habit, in addition to the ease at which ornamental grass seed propagation can occur, make these grasses an excellent choice even for novice growers.

Collecting Ornamental Grass Seeds

Often, one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening is the process of collecting seed and propagating plants within the garden. This cost effective and economical strategy can help gardeners create beautiful outdoor spaces, even when restricted by tight budgets.

Like many other plants, the process of harvesting grass seed is quite simple. However, before you begin collecting ornamental grass seeds,there are a few considerations to examine. Most notably, growers should take into account whether the plant is a hybrid or open pollinated variety of grass. While many cultivars will grow true-to-seed, it is possible that the offspring of some hybrid varieties may not look exactly like the parent plants.

How to Save Ornamental Grass Seeds

Even though some ornamental grasses readily reseed and spread in the garden, other varieties may need assistance. As with any plant in the landscape, collecting ornamental grass seeds requires patience. Seeds developing along the grass plume or seed head must be allowed to fully and completely mature before it is removed. This will help to ensure the best possible seed when it comes time to plant.

When seed has matured, it is important to immediately remove the seed heads from the plant. If left too long, seeds may begin to drop onto the ground or be eaten by birds and insects. Allow the seed heads to dry one to two additional days after they have been removed. Allowing seeds to dry further is a necessary step to avoid mold or other issues which may occur when the seed is stored.

The process of harvesting the seeds can leave plant matter, called chaff, mixed with the seeds. To remove these plant pieces, growers can gently blow it away with the use of a small fan or outdoors on a breezy day. Store the seeds in a dry, dark place until it is time to plant.

The Willamette Valley, with its temperate climate, wet winters, and arid summers, is an ideal place to grow grass seed. As a result, Oregon produces more cool-season forage and turf grass than anywhere else in the world. In 2010, grass seed was the sixth highest value commodity crop in the state. With recent declines in the grass-seed market, along with environmental concerns, however, the future of the crop is unclear.

Before white settlement, the Willamette Valley was home to a variety of native grasses. Due to the introduction of livestock and overgrazing, exotic grasses replaced wild grasses by the late nineteenth century. In 1921, Forest Jenks of Linn County planted the first commercial ryegrass in the valley. By the 1940s, grass-seed production was steadily increasing due to the mechanization of agriculture and the introduction of new grass varieties.

Oregon growers now produce essentially all of the U.S. commercial production of annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum), perennial ryegrass (L. perenne), bent grass (Agrostis spp.), and fine fescue (Festuca spp). They also produce substantial amounts of Kentucky blue grass (Poa pratensis), orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata), and tall fescue (F. arundinacea), which is used primarily for turf and lawns.

Beginning in the 1960s, one of the industry’s agricultural techniques became the subject of legislative controversy in Oregon. The post-harvest burning of grass seed fields had been a popular technique since its implementation in 1948 to control weeds, remove leftover straw, and destroy crop diseases. Two decades later, however, people became concerned about the air pollution and smoke the technique created.

When pollution from field burning created a thermal inversion in the Willamette Valley in August 1969, Governor Tom McCall issued a temporary ban on field burning. Over five thousand complaints about air pollution in the valley were filed that year, and the complaints continued through 2009, when the practice was banned.

In 1988, a field burn near Albany got out of control. The smoke caused poor visibility, resulting in a multi-car pileup on Interstate 5 that killed seven people and injured thirty. That accident helped persuade lawmakers to consider stricter regulations on burning.

Even though the number of burned acres dropped from 250,000 acres during the 1980s to 50,000 acres during the 1990s, people were still troubled by the findings of atmospheric pollution studies conducted by the Department of Environmental Quality. In 1991, House Bill 3343 established a phase-out of field burning and a limitation on propane flaming.

In 2009, the Oregon House and Senate considered a bill mandating the phase-out of field burning in nine counties. The bill was controversial. Farmers had been burning their fields for decades, which had allowed them to plant every year and to curb diseases and weed pressure at low cost without having to use heavy pesticides. Those benefits were weighed against the negative impact of burning on health and safety in the valley, and the legislature narrowly passed the bill.

With stricter controls on field burning, farmers have found alternative techniques, with mixed success. One popular alternative is direct seeding combined with herbicides, although studies have shown that such techniques only work with certain plants and that they cost more than burning.

Economic conditions have severely influenced the grass-seed market. In 2008, over 450,000 acres of agricultural land in the Willamette Valley were in grass-seed production, more than one-third of all cropland in the valley. By 2010, the number had dropped to 375,665 acres. The Oregon Department of Agriculture reported that between 2008 and 2010 the crop’s sale value declined from $469 million to $228 million.

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