Pampas grass, occasionally by its longer name American pampas grass, silver pampas grass, or in Latin as Cortaderia selloana known, is one of the most popular and well-known ornamental grasses. Retro and boho interiors, as well as wedding decorations inspired by these styles, are completely incomplete without a few bunches of this aesthetically pleasing ornamental plant. Pampas grass is instantly recognizable by its large, feathery, fluffy and graceful panicles perched at the top of long stems. They are a bit like ostrich feathers in appearance, but are much more environmentally friendly and also significantly cheaper. With proper drying and storage, pampas grass bundles can last up to 3 years without losing their fluffy texture. But did you know that you can keep this pretty ornamental plant in your own garden or even on the balcony? In the next few lines we would like to share with you practical pampas grass care tips as well as exciting facts worth knowing about this exotic beauty. Just keep reading!
The graceful pampas grass is a great eye-catcher in the garden
A must-have in boho style
Interesting facts and trivia about pampas grass
Pampas Grass is a perennial, evergreen, herbaceous clump plant that can reach staggering heights of over 4 meters. It can be visually separated into two parts – a dense tuft of shoots with long, thin and sharp deciduous leaves and long peduncles with feathery, panicle-shaped inflorescences growing out from the middle. Each individual mature plant can produce around 20 panicles during its annual flowering period from June to November.
The decoratively valuable panicles themselves can be up to one meter long and have different colors. Although silvery white is the most common, the different cultivars can also sprout off-white, taupe or light brown panicles.
Silvery white is the most common, but not the only pampas grass color
In the market and in some botanical gardens you can also occasionally spot pampas grass with pink or purple panicles. Interestingly, despite their visual similarities, they are two different plant species. The latter is called purple pampas grass or Andean pampas grass, in Latin Cortaderia jubata. It is common in mountainous regions, while the American species is native to the pampas, i.e. large grasslands in South America. In our gardens, however, both pampas grass species have very similar care requirements.
Pampas grass can thrive both in beds and in large pots, both growing methods have their unique advantages and disadvantages. In the container, for example, you have full control over the soil and its nutrients as well as external influences. On the other hand, pampas grass in the tub never grows as large and lush as that grown in the garden. If you want to get the best results from a potted pampas grass, then your best bet is to choose a dwarf variety such as B. Pumila or Evita.
Dwarf varieties can thrive quite well on the balcony or patio
Is Pampas Grass Toxic to Dogs, Cats, Rabbits, and Other Pets?
If you have pets that have access to your yard or potted plants, it’s always important to do some thorough research to make sure they’re actually safe. Many popular and seemingly harmless ornamental plants can actually be fatal to our fluffy friends.
Fortunately, this is not the case with pampas grass – this plant does not contain any toxic substances. Because of its sharp and cutting leaves, your pets will generally stay away from this plant themselves. However, gardeners with grass pollen allergies should avoid this ornamental plant.
All pets can and should be trained not to bite plants
The ideal location for optimal pampas grass care
When speaking of the ideal location for a plant, one should first look at the climate in its natural place of origin. Cortaderia selloana comes, as already mentioned, from the Pampas. These vast expanses of grass have a temperate climate with average temperatures of around 18 degrees, only occasional rainfall and plenty of sun. The soil is fertile, sandy, loamy and well-drained with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.
The origin of these ornamental grasses is in the name
It’s important to keep all of these climate characteristics in mind when choosing the right spot for your pampas grass. This should be sunny or partially shaded and relatively dry. Places exposed to strong winds or drafts should be avoided. Despite excellent flexibility, the tall stems of this ornamental plant can still snap.
One of the best locations to plant pampas grass is right next to the south-facing wall of the house. This will not only serve as a wonderful background and let the decorative ornamental plant shine, but will also provide the most sunlight.
If you want to place several plants next to each other, for example to create a privacy barrier, then do this with a distance of at least 1.5 meters between them. With good care, pampas grass can grow super fast and suppress other plants all around. In our gardens you can expect about 1 meter of growth per year.
Pampas grass looks particularly good in Mediterranean and boho gardens
Substrate, fertilizer and watering
Pampas grass is very undemanding in terms of soil and fertilizer. However, if you want to mimic its natural environment and be rewarded with lots of panicles and vigorous growth, it is best to plant it in a rich, humus rich, well-drained soil. A pH between 5.5 and 6.5 is generally perfect.
The young plants are planted in spring, after the last frost. In their first year, the small pampas grasses should not receive any fertilizer. It is only in the second year that they are fed every 2 weeks up to the beginning of August at the latest, with a diluted, ordinary flowering plant fertilizer. Compost and worm castings tea are also very suitable.
Regular but moderate watering is a real keyword for optimal pampas grass care. The soil should not dry out completely, but it should not be too wet either. Check the soil moisture with a finger before each watering. These ornamental grasses all too often suffer from root rot in our regions.
This ornamental grass feels very comfortable in the rock garden
Hibernation and pruning
Snow is a real rarity in the Pampas, but here it’s on its head. Although pampas grass can withstand temperatures as low as -15 degrees, it absolutely requires protection from the cold from December. To do this, make a dry and dense “winter jacket” around the ornamental plant. All the leaves are gathered up and tied with a string. Dry leaves, straw and fir greens are then attached all around. A jute bag is also useful. In the end, the whole thing should resemble a teepee.
It is imperative that the weather is dry when you tie the pampas grass
Only take off the “winter jacket” after the last frost. Now is also the time to remove all dry and dead plant parts. The straw-like foliage can usually be easily pulled out. However, the dry flower stalks must be cut off with sharp pruning shears. Always wear gardening gloves and long-sleeved clothing when working with the pampas grass, as the sharp leaves can leave small cuts.
If you plan to prune pampas grass later in the year for decorative purposes, it is best to do so before the flowers fully open. Then hang the stems upside down to dry. After about a week they are ready to be arranged.
Pampas grass care is very unproblematic under suitable conditions, but it also has its unique characteristics. If you do everything right, this ornamental plant will reward you year after year with wonderful blooms in the typical boho style.
Be careful not to cut off the young shoots
Make your own arrangements with cut flowers from your own garden
Pampas grass flowers are full of seeds that the little songbirds love to pick