One of the most recognized ornamental grasses, pampas grass forms impressive clumps that can reach 10 feet tall. In late summer, they produce very large white or pinkish plumes that can reach 3 feet long.
Common name: Pampas grass
Botanical name: Cortaderia selloana
Zones: 7 to 10
From: Areas of South America
Family: Poaceae (grass family)
Sun: Full sun
Soil: Well-drained soil is important.
Moisture: Plants are drought tolerant.
Mulch: A layer of mulch (up to 4 inches deep) around the base of the plant helps reduce competition from weeds and helps the soil conserve moisture. Organic mulches add to the soil's structure over time.
Pruning: If desired, leaves stems and plumes standing in garden for winter interest. Cut plants back to the ground in spring before growth begins.
Fertilizer: In all but the poorest of soils, the plants don't require fertilizer. In very poor soils, use an all-purpose garden fertilizer in spring.
Division: Divide in spring. Older clumps may require an axe, saw, or spade.
Seed: Sow the seeds in spring either in the garden or inside in a moist seed-starting mix.
Fungal diseases: If portions of the plant rot or have spotted leaves, the plant may be suffering from fungal disease. To prevent these diseases, try to avoid wetting the plants' foliage, especially after mid-afternoon. It is also helpful to divide plants so that the clumps do not become especially large. This will ensure good airflow, which also discourages these diseases.
• Several species of grasses are sometimes mistaken for pampas grass.
• The edges of the leaves are sharp, and can cut gardeners who do not take care when working around them.
• Pampas grass can spread its seeds widely. The plant is considered a pest in some parts of the country, including areas of Southern California. Check local rules before planting.
• Cortaderia selloana ‘Rosea' has silvery plumes in late summer that have a decidedly pink tinge. Sometimes called pink pampas grass.
• Cortaderia selloana ‘Sunningdale Silver' grows to about 10 feet tall and has silvery-white plumes in late summer. The plumes tend to hold up better to bad weather than many other pampas grasses.
• Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila' grows to about 6 feet tall and has silvery-white plumes in late summer.
• Cortaderia selloana ‘Monvin' (Sun Stripe) grows to about 6 feet tall and has silvery-white plumes in late summer. The foliage is striped with yellow.