Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana) is a flowering grass. It is native to South America’s region of Pampas, hence the name pampas grass. Pampas grass usually grows 10 feet (3m) tall and 6 feet (1,8 m) wide.
Pampas grass is a perennial plant. It has long leaves with razor-sharp edges and long plumes, which can be silvery-white, pink, or yellow depending on the cultivar. There are also dwarf cultivars available to grow in containers or smaller gardens.
Pampas grass is a multifunctional plant. It can be grown as a hedge or as an ornamental plant in the garden. Its beautiful soft feather-like blooms can be dried and brought indoors for decoration. White variations are often used for weddings as a cut flower or decoration.
Pampas grass grows fast and is banned in Hawaii and New Zealand. Pampas grass can displace native plants and reduce overall biodiversity.
Types of Pampas Grass
There are about 25 species of different variations of this ornamental grass. Some variations that are sold are seedless – to prevent invasive growth. Below you find some of them, that we like to grow:
- Gold Band, Aureolineata – Grows about 6 feet (1,8 m) tall, has golden and white plumes
- Pink Feather, Rendatleri – Pink pampas grass with beautiful blooms, usually grows 8 feet (2,4 m) tall
- Sunningdale Silver – Silvery-white blooms, grows up to 10 feet (3m) tall, good for wedding decorations.
- Pumila, Dwarf Pampas Grass – Yellow and white plumes, can be grown in containers since they only grow 5 (1.5 m) feet tall.
- Silver Fountain – Large yellowish white plumes, leaves have white stripes. Also good for decorating weddings.
How to Grow & Care
Pampas grass grows and thrives in full sun. Once it has been established, it’s a low-maintenance plant. It can even be grown in coastal areas, since it tolerates salt. In some regions extra maintenance is required, because it can get out of control.
Pampas grass prefers to grow under full sun, although it can tolerate partial shade. Ensure 6-8 hours of sunlight a day and the plant will thrive.
Soil & Fertilizer
Cortaderia selloana prefers well-drained, moist, fertile soil, but can tolerate other soil types. Fertilizing is not necessary for this plant, you can add balanced fertilizer if the plant is growing a lot slower than expected. Compost can also be added for soil amendment instead of fertilizer, which will also improve drainage.
In colder regions, a thick layer of mulch can be added around the base of the plant to prevent weeds. Mulch will also hinder new growth from seeds, preventing the plant from getting out of control. Mulch also retains moisture and protects the plant from low winter temperatures.
Freshly planted pampas grass needs moist soil. Once the plant has established it prefers drier soil. Pampas grass should only be watered during extreme draughts since it is draught tolerant.
This ornamental grass is winter-hardy in USDA zones 6-11, depeding on the cultivar. Some cultivars are reported to survive temperatures even as low as -4 °F (-20 °C).
Be careful growing this plant in regions, where wildfires occur. Pampas grass should not be planted near houses due to fire hazard.
Pampas grass needs to be heavily pruned, to grow properly. Remember, the leaves are very sharp, wear long sleeves, full-length pants, and protective gloves when pruning this plant.
This soft feather grass should be pruned annually in spring, a few weeks after the last frost. Cut pampas grass short to about 1 foot (30 cm) with sharp tools and you’ll see beautiful, soft plumes every year.
Some prefer to prune in late winter but it can cause root rot.
Pampas grass can be easily propagated by root division, after pruning in spring. Use a shovel to divide the roots, search for a separately growing clump of roots and replant it to a different location.
It is also possible to grow Cortaderia selloana from seeds, but it might not produce its renowned soft plumes for 2 or 3 years. Here’s how:
- Place the seeds on well-draining moist soil
- Cover the seeds with soil
- Keep the soil moist
- In 3-4 weeks, seedlings should appear
Surely you have thought about growing pampas grass just for indoor decoration. Here is a step-by-step guide to dry pampas plumes.
- Harvest plumes in August or September, when in full bloom and before sheading
- Use sharp tools to cut the plume stem near the base of the plant
- Remove leaves from the stem, cut the stem to appropriate length you desire
- Tie the 3-5 stems together
- Hang the stems upside down for half a month until dry in a room with good air circulation
- Spray the stems with hair spray for long-lasting plumes
Pests & Diseases
There aren’t any known diseases and pests that affect pampas grass. There might be a few rare cases, but usually, this plant thrives just fine in the right regions and with proper care.
Pampas grass is a beautiful, multifunctional plant. It is used for weddings and general indoor decoration. It is easy to grow and eye-catching, what’s not to like? It is also stunning as a hedge or an ornamental plant.
Remember to use protection when pruning it. Be mindful of the fire hazard and keep it under control, since it can be invasive in some regions.