Hardy Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana) is a rugged, tall, good-looking perennial plant. It has a lot to offer regarding both form and function. Because it grows between ten and thirteen feet tall, and individual clumps can spread to a width of six feet, it is an excellent choice as a privacy screens.
Furthermore, since its stems are stiff and upright and its leaves are literally razor sharp, it is an effective form of natural fencing.
Its beauty easily matches its practical applications. These plants sport large, fluffy, flower stalks of graceful plumes with various shades of white, cream and pink late in the summertime.
The plumes can be cut and added to dried floral arrangements, or you might simply leave them in place for added winter landscape interest.
The leaves or blades of this ornamental grass range in shades from deep green to variegated green and yellow. They sway attractively in the breeze and add texture and interest to the garden throughout the spring, summer and early autumn.
All of these positive attributes make Pampas Grass a very popular selection for landscape use; however, this 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.
Is It Hard To Grow Pampas Grass?
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 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.
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 seed but can spread through root growth.
Dwarf pampas varieties are especially hardy and take up far less space than original Pampas Grass. The silvery white plumes are more of a deep, golden color making an especially nice counterpoint to showy shrubs, such as KnockOut Roses, Butterfly Bushes and other floral plants of a similar size.
Taking Care Of Your Pampas Grass
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.
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 does 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 Grow Pampas Grass From Seed
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 Pampas 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 Plant Pampas!
Pampas Grass is a very attractive plant that adds drama and beauty to any landscape. Just remember, if you decide to plant it, you must keep it under control. Furthermore, if you change your mind about it later on, you’ll be fairly well out of luck. It is almost impossible to eradicate once established.
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:
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.