Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana), which is known for its white feathery plumes, will add a beautiful texture to any outdoor area. It’s increasingly being used for home decorations in wreaths and centerpieces, and has recently even become a popular choice for wedding bouquets. The silvery plume-like flowers are popular both in their fresh and dried forms among flower arrangers and crafters.
Pampas grass is truly a stylish addition to any garden thanks to its tall, majestic stature and showy plume-like flowers. While other landscaping fads come and go, pampas grass is definitely here to stay. This is because it thrives in hot, sunny conditions, making it ideal for warmer climates.
It’s quite easy to care for once established, often requiring only yearly pruning. This tough grass can withstand strong winds, extended periods of drought, and the salt spray that comes from coastal areas. What’s best is that it’s also resistant to most plant diseases and pests.
Pampas grass grows fast and can spread quickly. Carefully consider where you want to plant your pampas grass and ask your local greenhouse if they have any sterile plants that won’t self-seed.
Note: Pampas grass is considered invasive in certain areas of California, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand.
Botanical Name: Cortaderia selloana
Common Name: Pampas grass, tussock grass
Plant Type: Perennial, grass
Hardiness Zones: 7 – 10 (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Soil Type: Loamy, moist, well-draining
Soil pH: 5.4 – 6.5 (Acidic, neutral)
Height: 5 – 10 ft tall
Spacing: 6 – 8 feet apart
Bloom Time: Summer, fall
Flower (Plume) Color: White, yellow, and pink
Native Area: Brazil, Argentina, and Chile
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Caring for Pampas Grass
- Pampas grass is incredibly easy to care for once established and will look great in your garden throughout the changing seasons, often requiring only yearly pruning.
- It requires at least six hours of sunlight each day and grows best when planted in full sun., and you can plant it from seeds or a plant purchased from a nursery.
- It’s resistant to most plant diseases and pests but if the plant’s tussock or crown gets too big, the plant’s base can get too full and start to rot.
- Pampas grass plant readily reseeds and, depending on the variety, it can grow to a height of 10 feet. So keep that in mind before picking a spot to plant it.
- Before planting, make sure it’s not invasive in your area since it’s considered invasive in parts of California, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand.
Pampas Grass Care
A sunny, well-draining soil is ideal for planting pampas grass. Pampas grass is a low-maintenance plant that requires little watering or fertilizing. You can either choose to buy a plant or start your pampas grass from seed.
Pampas grass plants can be male or female, with the female having more showy plumes. To grow the more desired female plants, the plant is normally propagated by dividing and replanting a clump from a female plant.
This statement plant needs ample space to grow. Pampas grass develops to an average height and width of 10 feet and readily self-seeds. Plus, it can start overtaking other vegetation and be tricky to get rid of once planted.
That’s why, it’s important to think carefully about where to plant it. Also, make sure it’s not listed as invasive in your area before you decide to plant it.
Pampas grass is excellent for concealing items like HVAC systems or unappealing views. However, make sure not to plant pampas grass where it could spread onto your neighbor’s property or anywhere near your home where you don’t want it to block your view. This plant is also highly flammable, so do not plant it near a barbecue grill or other fire hazard.
The leaves of the Pampas grass are razor-sharp. When pruning or working close to pampas grass, use safety precautions like gloves, long sleeves, and pants, and plant it far away from where kids and dogs like to play.
Pampas grass requires at least six hours of sunlight each day and grows best when planted in full sun. In the shade, pampas grass is more prone to fungal diseases and won’t thrive or produce flowers.
Pampas grass thrives in moist, nutrient-rich soil with good drainage. The ability of the soil to drain efficiently is essential for healthy pampas grass. Compost is an excellent soil amendment for areas with pampas grass because it improves soil quality and drainage.
Pampas grass is quite drought-tolerant, making it an easy plant to care for. Unless there is a severe drought, established plants should get enough water from rain.
Water newly planted plants well right away after planting. You may want to water your grass intermittently for the first several months to ensure that it gets enough water. After that, the plant will receive all the water it requires from natural rains.
Temperature and Humidity
Pampas grass grows well in hot weather. These grasses are native to South America and can handle both heat and high humidity. However, these hardy grasses can also tolerate cold temperatures and even a little snow.
Pampas grass doesn’t need any fertilizer other than compost, which not only improves the soil but also helps with drainage.
By cutting the plant back hard to the ground in late winter, you can keep it under control and help it grow well next year. When pruning pampas grass, make sure you’re wearing protective clothing and eye protection since the leaves are razor-sharp.
Types of Pampas Grass
Here are some of the most beautiful types of pampas grass that you should consider growing in your garden:
- Sunningdale Silver: This variety makes a classy statement with its dark green leaves, silvery-white plumed flowers, and towering 10-foot height.
- Pink Feather: This stunning variety features pink plumes that start blooming from midsummer all the way until fall, with an average height of 8 feet.
- Pumila: If you’re looking for a stunning dwarf type, then this is the one for you. Pumila stays under 5 feet while still showcasing the graceful, stunning blooms that its taller pampas counterparts do. The plumes are ivory to yellow in color.
- Sun Stripe: This beautiful variety has silky silvery-white flowers that bloom in fall and can grow up to 7 feet. It notably features multiple yellow stripes running along its leaf blades.
- Patagonia: This type is well-known for its blue-gray leaves, which add a stunning contrast to its silvery-white flowers that can reach a height of 9 feet.
- Splendid Star: This is another stunning dwarf variety that can be easily grown in containers and features striking golden-green leaves and white flowers. Its leaves reach a height of 2.5 feet while the plumes stretch to around 4 feet.
- Silver Fountain: Known for its dense, long green foliage, this variety features silvery white flowers that bloom in late summer and can grow up to 4 to 5 feet tall.
Note: Avoid planting Cortaderia jubata, which is notorious for spreading quickly and having a weedlike appearance.
Pampas Grass Decor Ideas
Pampas grass is incredibly versatile, with dozens of ways you can use it as decoration in your home. Here are our five favorite pampas grass decoration ideas that we highly recommend you try:
- Bouquets: Create a large and eye-catching bouquet of pampas grass stems to place in a tall vase or floor-standing pot. You can mix pampas grass with other dried flowers or foliage to add color and depth. This is an excellent choice for an entrance or living room.
- Wreath: Putting up a wreath made of pampas grass as decoration at the end of summer or the beginning of fall is a lovely way to welcome the new season. When hung on a white wall in the dining area, the natural element adds warmth while still being neutral enough to be enjoyed year-round.
- Centerpiece: You can even create a unique centerpiece with pampas grass. Cut pieces of various sizes and colors, such as pink feather and Sunningdale silver, and arrange them in a vase. Place the vase on your dining table for an eye-catching arrangement that will last through the year.
- Wall art: Another great way to use this stunning, trendy grass is by creating a unique piece of wall art. You can glue the pampas grass stems to a canvas or board, and then frame it with a simple wooden frame. Hang it on the wall for an eye-catching statement piece.
- Room Divider: Use pampas grass to create a natural and beautiful room divider. You can use a tall floor-standing pot or basket to hold the pampas grass stems, and then place it in the corner of the room to divide the space. This is an excellent choice for open-plan living rooms or bedrooms.
How Long Does Pampas Grass Last When Used for Decor?
If handled carefully, freshly cut, dried, and preserved pampas grass may last for two to three years. Keep the grass away from direct sunlight and out of hot or humid areas in your home, such as the bathroom where it won’t last too long as decor.
Every so often, take the plumes outside and give them a light shake to remove any dust that may have accumulated on them. This will also help to fluff up the plumes again.
How To Use Real Pampas Grass for Decoration
Real pampas grass can be dried and used for decorating by first trimming the stalks with a clean cutting tool since the stalks are thick. Next, carefully tie them together with a rubber band, and then hang them upside down in a cool, dark, dry place that has good air circulation for two to three weeks.
If you’ve just cut some fresh pampas grass and want to put the stalks in a vase right away, you can do that too. However, don’t add any water to the vase because pampas grass is a dry grass.
How to Plant and Grow Pampas Grass
How to Grow Pampas Grass from Seed
Since pampas grass may grow up to 10 feet tall and wide when fully grown, consider carefully where you want to plant it.
To start, loosen the soil and directly sow seeds. Avoid covering the pampas grass seeds with a thick layer of soil since it will grow more easily if it has access to light and water. Instead, lightly cover the seeds with well-draining, nutrient-rich soil.
You can prevent birds from eating the seeds by covering them with netting. Germination will typically take approximately three weeks.
Alternatively, you can start pampas grass seed indoors in containers and transplant seedlings outside.
How to Propagate Pampas Grass
Division is a simple and effective method for propagating pampas grass. After pruning the plant to the ground, divide it and its root system with a sharp shovel.
Next, dig carefully around the clump until you can lift it out of the soil. After filling in the hole, move the newly divided plant to its designated spot.
If you plant them near other grasses, space them six to eight feet apart to give them enough room to grow.
How to Pot or Repot Pampas Grass
Though it can grow rather large, pampas grass, particularly the dwarf types, can be easily grown in pots. Due to its size, it is best to select a large container with ample space for growth.
When the pampas grass fills the container, either divide the cluster or transfer it to a larger container. To do this, turn the grass on its side and tap the outside of the pot until the roots come loose.
Place the plant in its new container and fill it with rich, well-draining soil. Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom of the pot to prevent water from collecting.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Pampas Grass
Pampas grass is generally resistant to most plant diseases and pests. However, if the plant’s tussock or crown gets too big, the plant’s base can get too full and start to rot. If this occurs, the entire tussock must be removed.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.