Hardy Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana) is a rugged, tall, good-looking perennial plant with lots to offer in both form and function.
Because it grows between ten and thirteen feet in height, and individual clumps can spread to a width of six feet, it is an excellent choice as privacy screens.
Furthermore, since its stems are stiff and upright and its leaves characterized with a literally razor sharp edge, it makes an effective form of natural fencing.
Its beauty easily matches its practical applications. Cortaderia selloana plants sport large and fluffy stalks of graceful plumes or flowers with various shades of white, cream and pink in the late summer.
Cut plumes for adding to dried floral arrangements, or simply leave them in place for added winter landscape interest.
Each sharp leaf or blade of this ornamental grass displays color from deep green to variegated green and yellow. They sway attractively in the breeze adding texture and interest to the garden throughout the spring, summer and early autumn.
All these positive attributes make Pampas Grass a popular landscape selection. However, the plant does have some downsides.
In this article, we will explore the considerations to keep in mind when planting Pampas Grass. We will also share advice on how and where to plant this warm-season grass. Read on to learn more.
- Pampas Grass Care: Is It Hard To Grow?
- Smaller Dwarf Pampas Grass Varieties
- Steps To Take When Planting Pampas Grasses” ]
- Pampas Grass Maintenance: Taking Care Of Cortaderia
- Think Carefully Before Planting Pampas!
- Pampas Grass Care – How To Grow Pampas Grass
- How to Grow Pampas Grass
- How to Care for Pampas Grass
- Propagating Pampas Grass
- Planting Pampas grass
- Trimming Pampas grass
- Learn more about Pampas grass
- Smart tip about Pampas grass
- Read also
- Pampas grass on social media
- Pampas Grass: Planting, Care, and Maintenance
- Types and Varieties of Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana)
- Other Pampas Species
- Things to Know Before Introducing Pampas in Your Garden
- Growing Pampas Grass: Care and Maintenance
- Pampas Grass Diseases and Growth Problems
- Pampas In Ornamental Gardening: Uses and Features
- Can Pampas be Toxic
- Approximate Cost for the Seeds
- More Information About Cortaderia
Pampas Grass Care: Is It Hard To Grow?
It is far too easy to grow this ornamental grass. It grows like a weed and declared an invasive species and noxious weed in Texas and California. It is banned in Hawaii and New Zealand.
This self-sowing plant can also spread via traveling roots. It gets around quickly and can overtake your garden (and your neighbors’ gardens) in very short order if you are not careful!
Young plants embrace a wide variety of growing conditions, and once in place, they increase in size and width with startling rapidity. This is why it is so important that you make an informed decision regarding planting Pampas Grass. If you decide you want to give it a try, be sure to have a workable plan in place for its management.
You must be certain to have ample room for growth. Understand that if you are planting more than one specimen, you must be able to provide a minimum of six feet of space between plants. You should also take care to plant it far away from structures because it is quite flammable and can present a fire hazard.
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For best results, select a full sun location to plant pampas grass in a well-drained soil that remains uniformly moist. However, if you are not able to provide this, you’ll be happy to know this robust plant can adjust to a wide variety of conditions. It can tolerate partial shade and various soil conditions.
In fact, Pampas Grass is drought tolerant but so flexible it can easily tolerate salt and wind. This is why it is an excellent choice for your seaside cottage garden! It is frequently used for beach-front landscaping because it can even put up with an occasional drenching with ocean water.
This plume grass like (ravenna grass – Saccharum ravennae) does quite well in a wide range of USDA zones (7 through 11). If you can plant it in a well-protected area, it will do quite nicely in Zone 6. It cannot grow in very cold areas unless you can grow it indoors (as in a mall or botanical garden greenhouse).
It could over-winter in containers brought inside; however, it grows so large that this would be impractical in most situations. Additionally, the plants’ sharp leaves make it unsuitable for indoor use or use in areas where unsuspecting people might come in contact with it frequently.
Smaller Dwarf Pampas Grass Varieties
If you don’t have a great deal of space and/or don’t want a plant that may take over your garden (or even your neighborhood) you may wish to look into sterile hybrid dwarf varieties.
These dwarf plants only grow to be about five feet high, so they only need four or five feet of space between them and other plants. They do not produce pampas grass seed but can spread through root growth.
Dwarf pampas varieties are especially hardy and take up far less space than original Pampas Grass.
Each silvery grey or white plume is more of a deep, golden color making an especially nice counterpoint to showy shrubs, such as highlighting Knockout Roses, Butterfly Bushes and other floral plants of a similar size.
Steps To Take When Planting Pampas Grasses” ]
Even though this enthusiastic perennial grass is quite hardy and easy to grow, follow there steps for the very best results.
- Pick a bright, sunny location and drain soil lightly, not excessively dry.
- Plan on giving each of your young plants 6-8 feet of space on all sides.
- Prepare your soil by tilling it well and incorporating some organic compost and/or well-composted manure.
- Dig a generously sized hole in your prepared soil. If your young plants are in gallon containers, your holes should be about seventeen inches wide and fifteen inches deep.
- Remove the plant from its container and massage the root ball to separate the roots so that they can take hold and absorb moisture more easily.
- Center your plant in the hole you have dug and refill around the plant with the soil that you have prepared.
- Water deeply, immediately. Keep the soil evenly moist as your plant establishes itself. Once established, you will only need to water deeply, occasionally if your area is in a state of drought. Otherwise, the long taproot of this plant will find the water it needs.
Pampas Grass Maintenance: Taking Care Of Cortaderia
When you have an established stand of this rugged ornamental grass, you are sure to find care and maintenance a breeze. It takes very little care.
In cooler areas, at the end of the growing season, late in the autumn, don your gloves and protective wear and tie the leaves of the plant together.
This will help protect the plant against shock caused by cold. If you live in an area that freezes, you may wish to wrap or cover your plants when the temperature drops below freezing.
Pampas Grass Pruning
In the very early springtime, you should prune or burn the dead stalks of your plant to the ground. This will not harm the roots, and it will make way for fresh, new growth.
Remember that the leaves of this grass are literally blades. They are razor sharp and can inflict quite a bit of injury. Be sure to wear gloves and sturdy long sleeves to avoid being badly cut when pruning or otherwise handling these plants.
Does Pampas Grass Need Lots Of Fertilizer?
Pampas Grass plants do very well with little or no fertilizer. If you want, you can give it a bit of balanced fertilizer in the springtime after pruning or burning back dead growth. This will help stimulate the springtime growth.
How Do You Propagate Pampas Grass?
After you prune or burn back your plants in the springtime, you can slice into the root clumps with a sharp shovel. Just dig up a shovelful of roots and relocate them to another setting. Soon you will have a whole new plant.
Note that Pampas Grass comes in both male and female varieties. You can tell the difference by the plumes. The females have fuller, silkier, more attractive plumes. It is best to just propagate the female specimens for the most pleasing results. You will have a much nicer looking stand of Pampas Grass if it is made up of mostly females.
How To Plant Pampas Grass Seeds
Also, how fast does pampas grass grow?
This rampant ornamental grass is considered invasive in many places specifically because it is self-seeding. Pampas grass produces massive numbers of seeds every year. They are carried thither and yon on every passing breeze, and they can germinate and make themselves at home in almost any kind of soil.
The grass can spread with little or no effort from you. The main point of propagation is to get your new plants where you want them, as opposed to having them scattered all around
If you want to grow Pampa Grass from seed, nothing could be easier. Sow the seed directly onto prepared soil in the springtime after all danger of frost passes.
The seeds need light to germinate; therefore, you should sow it in a sunny area and don’t cover it with soil. You may wish to rake the soil lightly before and after sowing to prevent the seed from blowing away or being eaten by birds.
When to plant pampas grass. If you wish, you can sow the seeds in pots indoors a couple of months before the last predicted frost. Sow them lightly on the surface of a loose, well-draining growing medium. Keep them well lit and warm (around 70 degrees) until they sprout. This should take between twenty and twenty-five days.
After all danger of frost passes, relocate your seedlings to your garden. As with all plants kept indoors during the winter months, you will want to transition your youngsters to the outdoor environment gradually.
Pests & Diseases Of Perennial Pampas
Pampas Grass has no enemies, other than cold weather and people who grow tired of it. It resists most, if not all, pests and diseases.
Think Carefully Before Planting Pampas!
Pampas Grass is a very attractive plant that adds drama and beauty to any landscape.
Remember, if you decide to plant it, you must keep it under control.
Later, if you change your mind, you’ll pretty much out of luck. It is almost impossible to eradicate once established.
So, how to get rid of pampas grass?
If you decide to get rid of this grass, prepare for a struggle of many years ahead. Many have tried chopping it down and/or burning it.
This only stimulates the grass to produce new growth or to “go underground.”
Remember this grass can spread through traveling roots, which grow deeply into the ground. It’s these deep roots which allow the plant to survive adverse conditions.
For example, in times of drought, even if the above-ground parts of the plant die back, the roots wait patiently underground, biding their time until welcoming conditions prevail once more.
Some people have successfully got rid of it with herbicides, but this is a particularly destructive method. This plant is so tough it will take multiple applications of poison to have any effect. Runoff from herbicides contaminates water supplies, so it is best to avoid use of these and other garden chemicals.
Other Grasses To Consider Include:
- Maiden Grass – Miscanthus sinensis
- Fountain Grass – Pennisetum setaceum & pennisetum alopecuroide
Before you decide to plant this beautiful, yet troublesome ornamental perennial grass, be sure it is allowed in your area. Check with your local agricultural extension office or consult the USDA online to be certain Pampas Grass is allowed where you live.
Pampas Grass Care – How To Grow Pampas Grass
Most people are familiar with the large clumps of lush, grass-like foliage and creamy white feathery plumes of pampas grass (though pink varieties are available too). Pampas grass (Cortaderia) is an attractive ornamental grass that is popular in many landscapes. While they’re extremely easy to grow, however, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before planting pampas grass around the home. Don’t be so quick to plant it simply because it looks good. It’s actually a very fast grower and can become quite large, anywhere from 5 and 10 feet high and wide, and even invasive.
How to Grow Pampas Grass
Before growing pampas grass, be sure to put it somewhere in the landscape where it has plenty of room to grow, especially when planting more than one. When mass planting pampas grass, you’ll have to space them about 6 to 8 feet apart.
Pampas grass enjoys areas with full sun but will
tolerate partial shade. It also tolerates a wide range of soil types but prefers moist, well-draining soil. Another plus side to growing pampas grass is its tolerance of drought, wind, and salt sprays—which is why you commonly see the plant along coastal regions.
The grass is hardy in USDA zones 7-11, but in well protected areas, it can also be grown in Zone 6. It’s not suited for cold regions unless grown in pots and brought indoors over winter and replanted outdoors in spring. Due to its large size, however, this isn’t really practical.
How to Care for Pampas Grass
Once established, pampas grass care is minimal, requiring little maintenance other than watering in extreme drought. It should also be pruned each year to the ground. This is usually performed in late winter or early spring. Because of the plant’s sharp foliage, the task of pruning should be done with great care using gloves and a long-sleeved shirt.
However, with appropriate measures taken (for clumps well away from homes and buildings), you can also burn the foliage down to the green growth without any harm to the plant.
While not required, pampas grass can be given a balanced fertilizer following pruning to help stimulate regrowth.
Propagating Pampas Grass
Pampas grass is usually propagated through division in spring. Pruned clumps can be sliced through with a shovel and replanted elsewhere. Normally, only female plants are propagated. Pampas grass bears male and female plumes on separate plants, with females being the most common among varieties grown. They are much showier then their male counterparts with fuller plumes (flowers) of silk-like hairs, of which the males do not have.
Pampas grass is one of the most majestic grasses, but it’s also one of the most invasive.
Pampas facts, a summary
Name – Cortaderia selloana
Family – Poaceae
Type – grass, perennial
Height – 1 ⅓ to to 13 feet (1.5 to 4 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary
Flowering – September to October
Planting Pampas grass
Preferably in spring or fall in soil amended with soil mix.
- Pampas grass loves sun.
- It isn’t very sensitive to the type of soil it must grow on.
- Propagate it through crown division in spring.
Trimming Pampas grass
It’s up to you whether you want to keep the leafage and blooms in winter or not, because it can either be trimmed and evened out, or simply kept as is.
But since Pampas grass can quickly turn invasive if nothing is done, here is our advice on trimming it:
- Cut back the plant to the shortest at the end of fall, when the blades of grass and flowers have dried up.
- Mulch the foot of the plant with dried leaves if the winter is very harsh in your area.
- In areas with mild climates, simply cut the grass back to 20 inches (50 cm), no need to protect the base of the grass shoots.
Learn more about Pampas grass
However, its beauty doesn’t make it any less invasive. In some areas of the globe, legislation is underway to actually ban its sale, because it tends to propagate extremely fast. It wipes out native plants entirely as it encroaches the land.
It is fine as a standalone, that’s what best highlights its uniqueness. But if you’ve got a lot of space available, you can also create large swaying plains of Pampas grass.
Upon planting, take great care not to plant too near a hedge or a neighbor’s plot, because it grows seriously large!
Smart tip about Pampas grass
Pozzolana looks great and makes the Pampas grass look astounding.
- Propagate perennials through crown division
- Grasses, trendy and ornamental
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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Tall Pampas puffs by .com / Hebifot ★ under license
Pampas bushing out by Sheila Shafer-Roberson ☆ under license
Pampas fronds in the wind, on social media by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Pampas Grass: Planting, Care, and Maintenance
- Organic Gardening
- Pampas Grass: Planting, Care, and Maintenance
Pampas grass (botanical name: Cortaderia selloana) is the common name for a flowering plant native to the southern parts of South America, specifically the pampas regions. The grass is quite popular in ornamental landscaping for its tall airy blooms that come in different colors, having won the Award of Garden Merit from the British Royal Horticultural Society. Although the name ‘pampas grass’ ideally only refers to the Cortaderia selloana species, in gardening, the name is used for identifying other species and cultivars from the Cortaderia genus.
Things to Know Before Introducing Pampas in Your Garden
Considered a weed in some regions: Check with your local authorities to make sure that you are allowed to introduce the grass in your area (it appears in a USDA invasive plant list). As this grass spreads through its deep traveling roots, as well as through self-sowing seeds, it is almost impossible to stop them from growing and spreading once established. However, you can check with your seller to get the sterile dwarf hybrids that do not seed further once mature.
Infamous for giving a bad reputation: Lately, having pampas grass in the front garden, especially when grown in a central location, has been associated with ‘swinger’ behavior in the owner of the house. This actually led to a considerable drop in their popularity in ornamental gardening. However, it is gradually gaining its demand back but is now grown more strictly as borders.
Not suitable for indoor gardening: The tall grass, with its sharp-edged leaf blades, is not considered a good option for growing indoors.
Pampas Grass Size Image
Beware of inferior-quality seeds: Make sure to get them from a reliable garden supply store, especially when buying seeds for the colored varieties. Online stores may offer seeds for unusual color variants, like blue and red pampas grass. These are often promoted with fake pictures, but such colors of pampas do not exist, and the seeds do not even sprout.
Growing Pampas Grass: Care and Maintenance
As it is considered a hardy invasive grass, it would not take much hard work to get them established in your garden. But controlling their growth to keep them within their boundaries might take a little consideration.
Planting and Propagation of the Seeds
What do Pampas Grass Seeds Look Like
Since pampas has female as well as androgynous plants, the seeds need both to be viable for germination. This is why it is recommended to buy the seeds from a reputed supply store, rather than collecting them from other plants as the latter may fail to germinate.
It is better to use cell packs for these seeds, instead of sowing them directly in the ground.
- Plant in any well-drained soil (not-too dry though) by just pressing the seeds into the soil surface, taking care not cover them completely as they need light.
- Water slightly to help the seeds get well-established in the soil.
Best time to plant the seeds: Mid-winter
Ideal temperature for germination: 65°F to 75°F
Time needed to germinate: 15 to 30 days
Transplanting the Seedlings
How to Plant Pampas Grass
They can be transplanted once 3-4 inches tall. You need to keep a distance of at least 6 feet between each plant, which is another reason why this grass is suitable for the borders. It also keeps your house and other structures safe, as the flower heads can pose a fire hazard.
- Pick a well-lit area and prepare the soil by draining well, and tilling with good quality organic compost.
- The holes dug for transplanting should be as deep as, and twice as wide as the original container.
- Plant the seedlings in the holes and water thoroughly to help them establish.
- Spreading a 2-3 inch thick layer of bark mulch around the new plants may be a good idea to help in moisture retention as well as weed-prevention. Make sure not to put the mulch too close to the pampas stems.
Other Care Requirements
Watering: During the first growing season, water the plants as frequently as needed to keep the soil moist. Take care not to overwater, as pampas doesn’t like flooded conditions. Once mature, the plants do not need regular watering anymore as they are quite drought-tolerant. Occasional watering in the summer, when the soil gets too dry, may still help.
Pampas Grass Plant Care
Fertilization: Fertilize 2 to 3 times during the first year of growth. After that, the plants can do quite well with little or no fertilization. Providing a high-quality garden fertilizer once a year, preferably during springtime, can help with the after-winter growth, also producing more striking flowers.
Sunlight: Being a hardy grass, pampas can grow in both full sun and partial shade. However, too much shade may interfere with the growth of the flowers. Around 6 hours of sunlight daily is ideal.
White Pampas Grass Picture
How fast does pampas grass grow to produce flowers
In most varieties, it takes about 2-3 years for the first bloom, with the flowers appearing around summer.
Pruning Your Pampas
It may grow as an evergreen grass in warmer regions, but in colder areas, most of the foliage dries and fades during winter. Late winter or early spring is the best time for trimming the older foliage and encourage fresh growth. The evergreen varieties may also benefit from a yearly pruning to keep them in shape. Rodents and other garden animals may nest at the base of tall established pampas, so it might be a good idea to poke the area before starting pruning.
Use a powerful weed trimmer to cut the overgrown grass down, leaving around 6-8 inches of foliage so they can grow back again from there. After pruning, the clumps of the grass stems may be divided and planted elsewhere.
Pampas Grass Pruning
Make sure to wear clothes that cover your hands and legs entirely, and also wear thick gardening gloves to protect yourself from the sharp edges of the grass.
Once the plant has been trimmed down, apply a couple handfuls of an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 fertilizer to the plant base. Burning down the dry parts instead of pruning used to be a common practice, but is not done anymore as it may actually damage the crown.
Despite being quite hardy, some gardeners in cold, or flood-prone regions have claimed that their pampas never grew back after the first winter. It may happen due to extremely unsuitable growing conditions. Usually, there is some green left around the base, even when the rest may dry up during winter, which proves the plant is alive.
What if Your Pampas is Not Producing Flowers
Sometimes, when grown in a well-maintained flower garden, there may be too much nitrogen or too little phosphorus in the soil from garden fertilizers. Such soil conditions often inhibit normal growth of ornamental grasses. Application of some high phosphorus fertilizer can work to balance both the high nitrogen and low phosphorus levels. Bone meal may be a good option for this purpose.
Pampas Grass Diseases and Growth Problems
Being a weed, pampas is bothered by few diseases and pests. As already mentioned, insects and rodents may try to build their home around the stems, but they do not usually eat the plants.
Constant humidity may be harmful, causing root rot. In such cases, the whole plant needs to be uprooted and the damaged stem has to be cut away. The root ball may be planted again after drying, in a well-drained area.
Another potential problem is fungal infections like helminthosporium, causing leaf spots. Use any quality fungicide to deal with these problems in the early stage, so the damage remains minimal.
Pampas In Ornamental Gardening: Uses and Features
Being sturdy perennials, pampas can be a good choice of ornamental grass, serving both aesthetically and functionally. When grown in a controlled way, the flower heads give your garden a majestic look, while their height can provide some privacy in your garden.
Pampas Grass Adding Color to Your Garden
A single file of pampas grass looks nice as a hedge for small gardens, while those with a large garden area may combine it with some feather grass varieties to produce an airy sea-side look. It also complements plants having bright colored foliage, like forest pansy. Additionally, the flowers, when dried, cut and bundled together, make a great addition to dry flower arrangements.
Can Pampas be Toxic
It is not known to be toxic to either humans or pets.
Approximate Cost for the Seeds
A 25-seed packet usually costs between $2-$4 for most popular types of pampas.
by gMandy | Updated : September 10, 2018
More Information About Cortaderia
The central prairie region of Argentina is called the pampas region and one of the primary plants of this area is Cortaderia, aka pampas grass. The 25 species in the genus Cortaderia can also be found elsewhere in South America as well as in New Zealand and New Guinea.
The genus name Cortaderia is derived from the Spanish word “corta”, meaning “cut”. This term refers to the leaves which have finely serrated edges that can easily cut through human skin. Cortaderia species (especially C. selloana) have an attractive arching habit and tall feathery flower heads. They have been widely used throughout the US for many years, but the cultivated cortaderia selections do not fully explore the full beauty of the genus . We strive to introduce gardeners to some of the colorful alternative cortaderia species that exist. Most of you may be familiar with the feathery white plumes that top the common pampas grasses, but we have found other tremendously attractive colors such as tan, brown, and pink pampas grass flowers.
Like most prairie plants, cortaderia prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is salt- and drought-tolerant once established and the sharp leaves deter deer. The only maintenance required is removing the dead flower heads and leaves once each year. Cortaderia is a large plant and needs a large spot in the garden. It pairs well with other substantial plants such as shrubs and small trees. When you are ready to buy cortaderia for your garden, check out our online list of cortaderia for sale.