Pampas grass is a rugged, tall, good-looking perennial plant. It is the king of ornamental grass. It grows between ten and thirteen feet in height and individual clumps can spread to a width of six feet. It can be planted as a windscreen and a natural barrier in the backyard. It blooms white, cream and pink color flowers in the late summer. In this article we will explore facts, characteristics, methods of cultivation, maintenance procedures of this beautiful grass.
Pampas Grass: Types & Individual Characteristics
Pampas grass is native to South America and New Zealand. It belongs to the grass family Poaceae. One species of the family is selloana which refers to Pampas grass. Selloana species is further divided into roughly 25 varieties.
Pampas grass is known by many names including silver pampas grass, tussock grass, cortadera, paina, pluma. There are three common varieties of pampas grass planted today. These are
- Aureolineata (Cortaderia selloana) or Gold band pamper grass
- Andes silver
- Silver comet
Aureolineata (Gold band)
This is a slow-growing, compact evergreen pampas grass. It can grow to height of about 6 feet. Its slender leaves narrow, yellow stripes. The flower’s color could be white to a golden tan. It can tolerate both heat and cold. It is more compact and erect than the Monvin type.
- Flower color: White
- Blooming time: late summer, early fall, mid-fall, late fall
- Foliage color: Deep green, yellow
- Sun exposure: Full sun
- Flower head size: very large
- Height: 180-240 cm
- Spread: 90-120 cm
- Growth rate: Medium
This pampas grass comes with Gray-green foliage with large silver plumes. This type is drought tolerant when established.
- Growth Form: Clump-forming
- Leaf type: Evergreen
- Flower color: cream
- Hardiness: 6-10
- Size: 5- 7 feet.
- Special feature: drought tolerant
- Idea soil: well-drained soil
- Sun exposure: full/partial.
The silver comet is planted more for its beautiful leaves than its flowers. The leaves come with white striations along their edges. Its white flowers plumes do not cross the top of leaves and often are removed to highlight the distinctive look of the leaves. The leaves can grow 4-6 feet in height.
- Plant type: ornamental grasses
- Height: 1.2-1.5m (4-5ft)
- Exposure: Full Sun
- Soil type: Moderately fertile soil with good drainage
- Flower color: Creamy white
- Spread: 1.2-1.8m (4-6ft)
- Soil Moisture: Regular
- Bloom time: August
- Hardiness: Zones 6-10
- Foliage color: Variegated Green with white stripes
- Companion plants: Juniper rose
- Watering requirement: regular
- Location: any location with full sun
Albolineata (Silver Stripe)
This is a white pampas grass which has many similarities to Gold band. It features white stipes along its leaves and is topped with a white feathery pannicle of flowers with a silver sheen
- Cultivar: Albolineata
- Height: 8 ft. to 6 ft
- Plant category: landscape, ornamental grasses, and bamboos, perennials
- Foliage: evergreen, semi-evergreen,
- Flower color: white
- Tolerance: deer, drought, pollution, slope, wind
Pumila (Dwarf Pampas Grass)
Pumila is a dwarf pampas grass. Its flowers color could be pale yellow to ivory. The plant grows as high as 1.5 meters or 4.9 feet. This varietal can be planted well in containers.
- This is the most cold-hardy pamper grass.
- Usually grows up to 4-6 feet tall and spreads 3-4 feet wide
- It is a versatile grass, can be grown in any garden style.
- It can be used as a specimen plant, in groups or en masse to create backdrops, view barriers or windscreens.
- It grows well in dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils.
- Lighting condition for this type is full sun or light shade.
Sunningdale Silver pamper grass
This white pampas grass features silvery flowers. Its pannicles are less dense and are less prone to form clump. Its stems can grow to up to 10 feet in height which makes it quite impressive.
- Its originating region is South America
- Attractive large tussocks of linear grassy foliage
- Resistant to drought and freezing temperatures
- Ideal for use as a solitary specimen and focal point
- Excellent ornamental grass for late summer and autumn effect
- Plums look attractive even in winter when covered with frost
This is the true pink-flowered pampas grass. The plant grows to an average height of 8 feet. It blooms from midsummer through autumn.
- Leaf edges: Sharp
- Pest and disease: none
- Place of origin South America
- Height- 2.5m (8ft)
- Spread- 2.5m (8ft)
- Sun exposure: Full
- Soil type (where it grows well): fertile well-drained soil
- Flower color: pinks/ purples
This white pampas grass comes with densely-packed long, green leaves. The leaves have white Silver Stripe. Its stems can grow as tall as 2-meter in height in late summer and produces flowers with large heads of silky, silvery heads.
Splendid star is as dwarf varietal features brilliant golden-streaked leaves. This is an ideal pampas grass to grow in containers. It also makes a good border plant. The flower stalks are filled with fluffy white pannicles.
- Ideal for: specimen plant
- Sun exposure: Full sun or semi-shaded sport.
- Hardiness: Hardy
- Height: up to 120cm(47.2in)
- Spread: up to 100cm(39.4 in)
- Ease of growing: Easy for all
- Maintenance: Easy for all
- Blooming time: Late summer
- Soil condition: well-drained soil.
It is an excellent hedge plant. This varietal has several yellow stripes along its leaves and reaches up to 6 to 7 foot tall. Leaves plumes tipped with silvery-white flower pannicles in the fall. Monvin can also be used as a windbreak.
- Category: ornamental grasses and bamboo
- Water requirements: Drought-tolerant, suitable for xeriscaping
- Sun Exposure: Full sun
- Foliage: Evergreen
- Height: 4-6 feet
- Spacing: 36-48 inches
- Danger: plant comes with spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
- Bloom color: White/Near white
- Bloom Time: Late summer/early fall
- Propagation methods: by dividing the root-ball
- Seed collecting: Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
- Region(where it grows well): San Leandro, California, Harrington, Delaware
Unlike other species, the Patagonia varietal produces bluish gray-green foliage in tight tussocks. It flowers can reach six feet in height. The plant blooms feathery and silver-white flowers in the fall.
- Sun exposure: Full sun
- Height: 6 feet tall in bloom
- Region (where grows well): Goodyear, Arizona; San Leandro, California, North Fort Myers, Florida; Savannah, Georgia; Dallas, Oregon
- Plant type: Cold hardy
- Leaves: have a blue-gray cast; flower plumes are silver
Cortadera jubata is not a sellona species. Sellona species(which has many variations) is the main species that primarily refers to pampas grass. This imposter plant also referred to as purple pampas grass or Andean pampas grass. This type can grow to an incredible seven meters or 22 feet tall.
At the start of the blooming, its flowers start out pinkish or purplish in hue. But when blooms, become ivory or white color flowers. It grows well along the west coast of the United States, particularly in northern and central California. Because of its invasive nature, it is completely banned from sale or propagation in New Zealand.
- A large and long-lived grass
- The plant is native to South America
- Long and narrow leaves can reach up to 2 m long and 4-30 mm wide.
- Leaves have margins that are sharply toothed.
- Its pink or purplish seed-heads are very large (30-90 cm long), plume-like, and borne at the top of the flowering stems
- Seed-heads fade to a yellowish, whitish or dull brown color as they mature.
- Seed-heads are made of numerous small flowers spikelets that each contains three to five tiny florets
- The florets have long silky hairs (7-8 mm long) which give the seed-head its feathery appearance
This type too is not a true pamper grass. It belongs to the same Poaceae family but it is a different species. But it has many similarities with pamper grass. This type is formerly known as Erianthus ravennae. It forms thick clumps of tall ornamental grass and can grow 9-12 feet in height.
The plant’s flowers bloom on central stalks in early summer and are purplish-bronze or white, turning to silver-gray in fall and often lasting into the winter. Its leaves come with a single white stripe down the center and can turn bronze and red in fall. It is considered an invasive tall landscape grass in the Pacific Northwest.
- Native range: Northern Africa, Mediterranean
- Zone: 5 to 9
- Height: 6.00 to 12.00 feet
- Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
- Bloom Time: September to October
- Bloom Description: Purplish-bronze
- Sun: Full sun
- Water: Dry to medium
- Maintenance: Medium
- Flower: Showy
- Leaf: Colorful
- Other: Winter Interest
- Tolerate: Drought, Black Walnut, Air Pollution
The Invasive Species
Pamper grass is considered invasive in many places because it is self-seeding. It produces a massive number of seeds every year. They carried out by wind, germinate and make habitat themselves in almost any kind of soil. The grass can propagate with little or no effort.
Because of such invasiveness, Pampas grass can displace native plants and create habitats that are lower in biodiversity. In the United States, all types of Pampas grass are considered invasive in California and South Carolina. The plant is listed in the global invasive species database.
How to grow Pampas grass?
Pampas grass is too easy to grow. To grow this ornamental grass, select a sunny location with fertile soil, sow seeds or plant young pampas grass plants, occasionally water, fertilize, trim your grass and watch its growth. Below we have outlined everything on how to grow pampas grass.
When to grow?
Pampas grass needs lots of Sun and only a small amount of water. So, spring is the ideal time to plant the grass. Planting it either in winter or fall could hinder its growth.
Choosing the location
Choose a spot with plenty of space since Pampas grass grows tall and spreads wide. Choose an area that is fully exposed to sun or have partial shade. Your selected location should get at least 6 hours of sunlight daily for maximum growth. Other requirements regarding site selection:
- Do not plant Pampas grass near roadways or driveways. The tall and bushy grass can impede with lines of sight
- The plant should also be not be placed close to central air conditioning units. Long leaves of the plant can become caught in the fans.
- Leaves have razor sharp edges. So, do not plant in an area where young children play.
Working on the soil
Pampas grass grows well in fertile soil with good irrigation system. Good irrigation system means well-drained soil where water does not stand still. Plow the soil to aerate it and then add an organic compost, peat moss or manure to help fertilize the grass.
Starting with the seed
Growing Pampas grass from seed is quite easy. Just sow the seed directly onto prepared soil in springtime. The seeds only require light to germinate. So, sow them in a place having full Sun exposure. Do not cover seeds with soil. A good idea is raking the soil lightly before and after sowing to prevent the seed from blowing away or being eaten by birds.
Another method is you can sow the seeds in pots indoors before the last predicted frost. This method is ideal for a cold region. Make a growth medium or culture medium by amassing soil in a container. The container should have a well draining system. Sow seeds lightly on the surface of soil and keep them well-lit and warm (around 70 degrees) until they sprout. This should take around three weeks.
After the winter is over, relocate your seedlings to your garden. Transition young plants outdoor environment gradually.
An alternative to seeds
Alternatively, you can plant seedlings instead of starting with seeds. Growing Pampas grass from a plant is quite easy. Because in this case, pampas grass establishes itself as well as grow quickly. You can buy pampas grass plant from nurseries, garden shops and even hardware stores. You can also order it online.
Preparing the location
Measure the width and height of the plant root system. Then using a shovel, dig a hole that is three times as wide and three times as deep as the root system. This will give the roots ample space to spread and establish themselves. This species increases in size and width with startling rapidity. So, if you want to plant multiple specimens, dig other holes keeping at least 6 feet gap between them.
Arranging the roots
A root ball is a network of roots that are connected to the soil. To ensure that pampas grass survives transplantation, use your hands to gently separate the root ball.
Positioning the plants
Place the plant in the middle of the hole keeping its position upright. Fill the hole with dirt around the plant. You can add sand to the soil if your selected location does not drain well. Lightly pat down the dirt or sand to ensure that the plant is placed firmly.
Feeding the plants
Give the newly planted pampas grass lots of water so that the soil is fitted in position and that the plant will take the root. Keep the soil uniformly moist until the plant has established itself.
Fertilizing the plants
During the first year of the plantation, fertilize the plant up to three times. After the first year, taper it down to only once per year. Apply a high-quality garden fertilizer to boost the beauty of the flowers. Your pampas grass may take up to three years to bloom.
Taking further care
Your pampas grass needs further care. These include Pruning and draining, taking care of the roots and control of pests and diseases.
Pruning and Draining
The plant needs annual pruning to get rid of the old foliage and make room for new growth. Use long-handled loopers to trim your grass in the late winter or early spring. Remove all the leaves and flower stalks above 30 cm in height. The foliage of the grass is tough and razor sharp. You need to wear long sleeves and gloves when pruning.
Tie the leaves of the grass together with string in November to facilitate water to drain from the plant. This will prevent shock during the winter.
Taking care of the roots
If you live in an area where the temperature drops to below freezing point, take care of the roots by putting straw or mulch over the roots of your pampas grass before frost season. You can also cover the roots with a fleece wrap.
Control of pests and diseases
Barely, Pampas grass does affect with diseases. However, it can develop spots occasionally. Spray fungicide to quickly get rid of it. The plant is also safe from animal consumption. Instead, it serves as a safe-haven for some animals. So, it is a good idea to search your pampas grass from time to time to ensure that no unwanted guests are residing inside.
Propagation of pampas grass
Pampas grass can be propagated in August or September. But the best time is in the spring after the last predicted frost. This will allow the plant an entire growing season to recover from the transplantation process and establish its root system before next winter. Follow below steps to propagate the plant:
- Wear heavy gloves and a long-sleeved shirt before start the actual process.
- Cut the plant back to 1 to 2 feet tall until you can clearly see its base
- Examine the stems at the soil level. The center of the clump will be surrounded by healthy younger shoots.
- Cut a healthy younger growth from the center of the plant with a sharp spade.
- Plant the divisions at the same depth that they occupied while growing from the mother plant.
- Water extensively and keep the soil evenly moist throughout the entire growing season.
Uses of pampas grass
The plant has no known edible or medicinal use. But a fiber can be extracted from the leaves that can be used for making paper. Autumn is the harvesting time of the leaves. The leaves are cut into usable pieces and soaked for 24 hours in clear water. They are then boiled for 2 hours and then crushed in a blender. The fiber that results from the process makes a yellow paper.
Pampas grass is used mainly as a decoration. The grass makes a nice ornamental plant because of its large plume-like flowers. The only drawback having it as an ornament is the leaves that are quite sharp and nasty.
Pampas grass is drought tolerant. The plant can easily tolerate salt and wind making it an excellent choice for your seaside cottage. It is frequently used for beach-front landscaping. Because it sustains occasional drenching with ocean water.
The plant grows between ten and thirteen feet in height and individual clumps can spread to a width of six feet. Many homeowners are now planting it to keep their property hidden from the prying eye. There is an urban myth that says having pampas grass in your front garden is a good way to let swingers in the neighborhood know that you’re ready for some wife-swapping!
A supportive element for the garden
It is a stunning gardening plant. It provides color and movement in the garden and on the patio whether it is autumn or winter. The plant usually blooms in September. Under favorable conditions, the plumes remain beautiful for months.
The green leaves of the grass are long, narrow and elegant. They sway even in the mildest breeze, bringing natural movement to your garden and patio. The plant grows as high as 10 to 13 feet. So, it provides plenty of greenery and display at a height that you cannot except many other plants flower.
In a wilder garden, Pampas grass can be planted filling difficult gaps in the border up to fence height. The grass also provides an attractive coastal look for anyone seeking to create a seaside garden feel.
Recognition of pampas grass
- The most striking feature of pampas grass is its marvelous silver-white plumes.
- Female type of pampas grass produces soft, silver-white plumes. Male species are more rugged, less attractive and produce greyish pink flowers.
- Its stems are stiff and upright and its leaves have a razor sharp edge.
Pampas grass can make your home look great with its large clumps of lush, grass-like foliage and creamy white feathery plumes. It is not only an attractive plant but also a functional grass. It can give privacy to your property and save it from a wind gust. Its razor-edge leaves can act as a natural barrier to intruders (whether human or animal). Plant a pampas grass today and reap many of its benefits.