Pampas grass is native to South America — growing in the wetlands of Southern Brazil and Argentina — and typically thrives in damp soils.
Here in the US, it grows in USDA zones 8–12. Pampas grass can also survive in zones 6 and 7, but it struggles in colder climates.
There is no denying that pampas grass would look good in your landscaping, but, before you rush to plant it, there are a few things you might want to know.
Growing Pampas Grass (Cortaderia Selloana)
As expected with most plants, you can either transplant the seedlings from a nursery or use seeds. In the case of pampas grass, transplanting is the better option.
This is because it allows you time to prepare it into hardy seedlings.
In addition to this, transplanting allows you to select the female plants — propagation from seed results in a combination of both male and female clumps. The latter is much showier than its male counterpart, and you can’t differentiate the two until your grass flowers.
As mentioned earlier, pampas grass Cortaderia selloana thrives in USDA zones 8–12. These are warmer climates, which means you’ll want to plant your grass in early spring.
Once you have your pampas grass, prepare your garden for planting.
Start by selecting a section of your garden where the grass will have sufficient room to grow. You’ll need to space the grass by at least 5 feet, and if you’re planting the pampas grass in clumps, you’ll need to increase this spacing.
Pampas grass thrives in sunlight but also grows in partial shade. It’s drought and salt tolerant, and can grow in a wide range of soils — provided the soils are well-draining.
When preparing the garden, take into account the plant’s expected growth rate. Pampas plants can grow up to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide, and this should guide you in spacing so as to prevent the garden from looking cluttered.
With that settled, measure or estimate the width and height of the root ball. These measurements will help you dig the right size hole. Ideally, you want a hole as deep as the root ball’s height and twice as wide as its width.
Gently lower the grass into the hole, and fill the hole about halfway with soil. Then, pat the soil around the roots and water it thoroughly. This helps avoid transplant shock and encourages root growth.
Caring for the Grass
Continue watering the grasses until the roots are well established. You can confirm if the plants are well watered by pushing a finger about an inch into the soil; there, you should feel the texture and moisture content.
This is one of gardening’s basics — if the soil feels moist, you’re good to go. If not, you’ll need to water it, as the roots aren’t getting enough. Once the grass is established, you can cut back on watering.
Pampas require a lot of maintenance, especially if you don’t want the grass to cover the entire landscape. Therefore, dedicate time to work on your garden and get the right tools and gear before you embark on the task.
Also, ensure that you learn some gardening basics and tips. You’ll need to cut and prune the grass once every year — preferably in late winter when the grasses are dormant — while being cautious of the sharp foliage.
Typically, pampas plants don’t need it, but if you have to, be sure to apply a balanced fertilizer after springtime to stimulate regrowth after pruning.
Pests and Diseases
Cortaderia selloana is considered an invasive plant species, so animals and birds will rarely feed on it. You’ll have very little to deal with besides birds and insects that make nests in the grass.
To prevent this, learn how to keep birds out of your garden.
Types of Pampas Grasses
You can’t go wrong with pampas grass in your garden. There are many different varieties to plant, and they range from small plants to taller plants that reach north of 2 meters.
True Pampas Grasses
- Andes Silver grows to a height of 7 feet and a width of 5 feet. It’s low maintenance and thrives in USDA hardiness zones 6–10.
- Bertini is among the shorter varieties as it grows to about 4 feet tall. It has creamy white flowers and thrives in zones 7–11.
- Patagonia Pampas produces silver-white flowers and gray-green foliage. It can reach up to 7 feet tall and is hardy to zone 6.
- Pink Feathers creates a spectacular statement, thanks to its feathery pink plumes. It grows to 7 feet in height and can be an excellent addition to pink-themed gardens. It’s drought resistant, as well as salt spray and heat tolerant, making it suitable for coastal landscapes.
- Gold Band can reach 7 feet in height and up to 5 feet in width while being hardy to zone 8. It can grow in almost all soils but thrives most in fertile, well-drained options. It’s a noninvasive variety and grows straight, unlike other pampas varieties.
Hardy Pampas Grass
- Dwarf Pampas Grass, also known as “Pumila,” Dwarf Pampas is one of the shorter varieties, as it grows to a height of about 4–6 feet and spreads about 3–4 feet. It can grow in almost all types of gardens and tolerates all soil conditions. Plus, it’s deer resistant and can tolerate dry winds once established.
Like most grasses of the Cortaderia selloana species, the female plants typically have the best plumes. If you plant both female and male pampas grass in your gardens, more viable seeds will be produced.
This is why the Pumila is considered invasive in some areas, such as California.
- Pink Pampas Grass, also known as “Rosea” is part of the Poaceae family and is one of the larger pampas grasses. It can reach up to 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide. The color of the leaves varies from pinkish-beige to light salmon. It’s fast-growing, reaching maturity in about 3 years, and, once it does, it will cover your garden with fluffy pink plumes.
Pampas Grass Can Be Invasive
Although the flowers look amazing and would beautify any landscape, tread carefully when dealing with pampas grass. Not all areas allow its introduction, so be sure to check first.
Once the grass is established and begins to thrive, it becomes increasingly harder to contain. The best alternative to constant maintenance is buying sterile dwarf hybrids, as they don’t produce seeds once they mature.
It takes tons of research and getting your hands dirty to master gardening practices.
Fortunately, over the last few years, we’ve been researching and have compiled multitudes of gardening content. Feel free to browse — you might learn a few things you can implement in your gardening.