How to Grow and Care for Pampas Grass

Did we mention that it's nearly impossible to kill?

Calling all garden gurus and flower arranging fans. This fall grass is making appearances in centerpieces, wreaths, and even wedding bouquets more than ever before. With its dramatic stature and plume-like flowers, the striking look of pampas grass makes it a trendy pick for Southern yards. But unlike some trends, growing pampas grass is a landscape choice that's here to stay. That's because it is perfect for a warmer climate—it thrives in hot, sunny conditions. Here in the South, people frequently plant it at the beach. It grows in sand, tolerates drought, and bends gracefully in the salty breeze. Flower arrangers and crafters love the silvery, plume-like flowers fresh and dried. Pampas grass grows quickly and it can become invasive. Think carefully about where to plant pampas grass, and ask your local greenhouse about sterile plants, which will not self-seed.

Plant Attributes

  • Common Name: Pampas grass, tussock grass
  • Botanical name: Cortaderia selloana
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Plant Type: perennial, grass
  • Mature Size: 8-10 ft. tall, 10 ft. wide
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Moist but well-drained
  • Soil pH: Acidic, Neutral
  • Bloom Time: Summer, fall
  • Flower (Plume) Color: white, yellow, and pink
  • Hardiness Zones: 7-10 (USDA)

Pampas Grass Care

Plant pampas grass is a sunny area with well-draining soil. Pampas grass is easy to grow, and plants rarely need watering or fertilization. Pampas grass can be grown by seed or you can opt to buy a plant. Pampas grass plants can either be male or female, and the female has the showiest plumes. The plant is usually propagated by dividing and replanting a clump from a female plant to grow the more desirable female plants.

This statement plant needs room to grow. Pampas grass typically grows 10 feet high and wide, and easily self-seeds. For these reasons, it's important to consider planting sites carefully. Pampas grass is ideal for camouflaging things like HVAC units or undesirable views. Avoid planting pampas grass where you do not want views blocked (too close to your home) or where it could spread into a neighbor's property. This plant is also highly flammable, so do not plant near a grill or any other fire hazard.

Pampas grass is considered invasive in parts of California and Hawaii.

Light

Pampas grass does best when planted in full sun, and it needs at least six hours of sun a day. Pampas grass will not thrive and flower in shade and will be susceptible to fungal diseases.

Soil

The best conditions for growing pampas grass are loamy and moist, but well-drained soil. Either acidic or neutral pH works well for pampas grass.

Water

Water pampas grass well until it is established and after that this drought-resistant plant

Temperature and Humidity

Rugged pampas grass can take high temperatures and humidity and will survive over winter in USDA Grow Zones 7-10

Fertilizer

Pampas grass doesn't require fertilizer aside from compost to improve soil (and drainage).

Special Notes on Care

Pampas grass leaves are razor-sharp. Wear eye protection, gloves, and long sleeves and pants when pruning or working near pampas grass, and plant in an area away from where children and dogs play.

Types of Pampas Grass

  • Sunningdale Silver With its dark green leaves, silvery-white plumed flowers, and majestic 10-foot stance, Sunningdale Silver makes an elegant statement.
  • Pink Feather What could be more stunning than pink plumes? Pink Feather starts blooming in mid-summer and continues until fall, and the average height is 8 feet.
  • Pumila Yes, you can enjoy the beauty and drama of pampas grass even if you don't have room for a ten-foot plant. Pumila is a dwarf type and tops out at under five feet, but it has the same graceful blooms (these are ivory to yellow) as its taller pampas grass siblings.
  • Patagonia Loved for its blue-gray leaves that provide a beautiful contrast to the silvery-white flowers, Patagonia soars to a spectacular 9 feet.
  • Splendid Star This dwarf pampas grass (this is a manageable plant that can be grown in containers—the leaves reach 2.5 feet, and the plumes stretch to 4 feet) has striking golden-green leaves and white blooms.

Pruning

A hard pruning to the ground in late winter helps keep the plant under control and will help encourage healthy growth for next season. Cut to the ground, and be sure to wear protective clothing and eye protection when pruning pampas grass.

Propagating Pampas Grass

Following the pruning, use a sharp spade to cut a clump from the plant. After dividing the clump from the main plant, dig down to loosen the roots. dig out the clump and transfer it to the desired planting spot. Dig a hole just bigger than the new plant, and water moderately after planting.

Due to the size of this grass, it's not hard to miss. If you want to know how you can get your hands on this trendy plant, it's often found in sunny places along the coast. But if you prefer to use the dried plume-like flowers for ornamental décor, they can be easily found at craft stores. Regardless of the use of this prominent grass, it's important to know the details of this special plant.

How to Grow Pampas Grass from Seed

Think carefully about where to plant pampas grass, as a fully-grown plant can be 10 feet high and wide. Loosen the soil and sow seeds directly. Do not cover with soil, because pampas grass with sprout more easily if it is accessible to light and water. You can protect the seeds from birds by covering them with netting. You can also start pampas grass seed indoors in pots and transplant seedlings outside.

Common Problems with Pampas Grass

If the tussock or crown of the plant is overgrown, the middle of the plant can get too full and start to rot. If this happens, the entire tussock should be removed.

The Trendiest Fall Plant That Thrives In The Sou
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FAQ

* How long can pampas grass live? A pampas grass plant can live for 10-15 years.

* What are some alternatives to pampas grass? If you're worried about the size and potential spread of pampas grass, some good alternatives are Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha), which grows up to 4 feet and has pink plumes; Shenandoah Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah') had red-tipped green leaves that turn burgundy in the fall; Regal Mist Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris 'Lenca') is topped with delicate cotton-candy plumes, is fast-growing, and tops out at 4 feet.

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