Pampas Grass: Grow and Care for Cortaderia Selloana

Ed Wike
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Pampas Grass Overview

Pampas Grass (Cortaderia Selloana) is an extremely beautiful perennial plant with large white plumes, which grow from a woody base. Native to Argentina and Uruguay, pampas grass is an extremely versatile plant that provides a wide range of landscaping options. These plumes come out of the base in early summer to late autumn. That doesn’t mean that you won’t see a few yellow ones popping out in winter, but they are rather rare.

In the right conditions, this plant will grow in most parts of the world. It reaches maturity by three to five years, reaches heights of three to ten feet, and is grown in USDA Zones 8 to 10. You can plant this grass wherever it gets good drainage and sunlight. So it’s perfect to plant at the front of your lawn.

Another important fact is that this plant is fairly easy to grow. You just need to water it occasionally and keep it away from frost. Pampas grass is extremely hard to find at major nurseries or home improvement stores and may be difficult to locate in plant nurseries too. But you can always ask for it by name and look in specialist nurseries. If you visit botanical gardens or zoos, you might have a look at the plant they use as it has the same features.

Pampas grass is a very hardy plant.

Types of Pampas Grass

There are two types of pampas grass plants: C. selloana and C. cuneata. These are also called feather grass or Austral grass.

C. selloana is also called Pacific Pampas grass. These varieties grow naturally in South America and other southern countries. C. cuneata is also known as Giant Cane Pampas Grass.

Pampas grass care is as simple to perform as it is for any other ornamental grasses. The most important consideration should be your climate zone.

While it is a popular and hardy ornamental grass, it is native to South America. It is a plant that would be better suited to a location where the climate and growing conditions are far removed from the areas in which you live. If you're trying to bring the plant indoors, you would need to grow it in a greenhouse.

It is worth noting, however, that this plant can grow to be very tall, so it is unlikely that it would be possible to bring it indoors successfully.

Planting Pampas Grass

Pampas grass is classified as a cool-season grass, and so it does best in the temperatures of Spring, Autumn and even the most severe of winters. It can handle light frosts, but heavy frost or snow may kill it. Although Pampas Grass is native to South America, it is easily grown in most parts of the United States. Follow the steps in this article for easy maintenance.

Plant Pampas grass in the fall, when temperatures are still warm. The plant will need full sunlight, and at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Choose a spot in your garden that gets sunlight from different angles because this provides better coverage. Check soil pH. Pampas grass needs a soil pH between 5.4 and 6.5 to thrive. If your soil is too acidic, you can add lime to raise the pH.

Take your Pampas Grass plant out of its container, hold it over the planting hole, and backfill the hole with soil. When planting the sample grass in a row, space them about four feet apart (1.2 m). Then take a handful of compost, moisten it, and then use it to surround the base of the Pampas Grass plant. Leave extra room around the plant for the root ball to grow into the surrounding soil.

When to Plant Pampas Grass

Pampas grass, Cortaderia Selloana, prefers warm weather and full sun to grow and thrive. Plant your pampas grass in early spring once the last frost has passed. Pampas grass plants can also tolerate temperatures as low as 15 degrees but will not tolerate temperatures below 10 degrees.

Plan your planting location carefully. Pampas grass grows tall so it needs to be placed in a location where it will have plenty of room to grow. A corner of your yard might be a good place to plant your new pampas grass. If planting in a concrete area, make sure to provide adequate water. Since pampas grass spreads, you’ll want to purchase a small plant to begin and then allow the plant to spread as it grows.

Plant pampas grass in a sunny location with plenty of well-drained soil and water as needed. Pampas grass is a tall, graceful grass that grows to be 8 to 10 feet tall. If planted in a sunny location, pampas grass will create a beautiful privacy screen.

Where to Plant Pampas Grass

Plant in Full Sun

When you are planting a pampas grass, you want to be careful about the amount of sunlight it receives. These plants thrive in full sun and do not do well in areas with less light. You should also remember that you are most likely planting this plant indoors. Because of this, you need to be creative and make sure it is placed in an area with plenty of natural light.

This means that you will need to plant the plant on the southern side of the house or in a room that has lots of windows. This is because you want to expose the plant to the most amount of sunlight. If you are unable to do this, you will need to invest in a grow light. Using one of these is a great option because it will allow you to light the plant without using electricity.

Another great benefit to using a grow light is that you are able to place it right above the plant. You should make sure that the lights are set according to the instructions that come with it. This will make sure that you are able to get the right amount of sunlight and the plant will not be harmed.

Caring For Pampas Grass

One of the most significant reasons Pampas grass will not flower is because temperatures are too cold. Pampas grass is known to be a cold environment hardy plant and it will not require much if any care during the winter. As long as there is no ice or snow on top of the plant and the temperatures remain above freezing, it will do fine. If the plant does undergo a cold snap, and the top of the Pampas grass is damaged, it can still recover as the roots will remain healthy.

Troubleshooting Pampas Grass

If your Pampas grass begins to grow but never flowers, you may need to check your soil. The level of phosphate compounds (which stimulate growth) in the soil may be at the ideal level. The level of potassium (which promotes flowering) may need to be increased. You can do this by adding compost or potting soil.

In the spring to stimulate faster growth, you can fertilize the plant with a balanced fertilizer. For a balanced fertilizer, use equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This mixture is often referred to as 15-10-5 or 20-20-20.

Sun

If you plant your Pampas Grass outside, it's best to plant near the start of the growing season, but you can plant anytime. Before you plant, you need to dig a hole in the soil about twice as large as the rootball of the grass. Use a shovel to loosen the soil in the hole and remove all weeds and grass within 1 foot of the area where you will be planting. The soil should be loose, fertile and well-drained. You want the hole one and a half to two times as deep as the Pampas Grass’s root ball. Add nutrients, such as 21-0-0 to the soil. Mix the fertilizer into the soil until it fills 1/3 of the hole.

Little is digested by the plant in late summer, so to conserve water, release from the line only half as much water as you normally would during the 1st month after planting. Adjust watering based on the evaporation rate of the soil in your specific location.

After the first month, gradually increase the amount of water you release until you release the maximum amount your region recommends.

The Pampas Grass doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer to look its best, so don’t overdo it. Stop using fertilizer when the grass is flowering.

Soil

Pampas grass prefers anything that is gritty and rich. The soil should be to the point that it doesn’t drain well but also retains moisture. A lot of homeowners tend to go for the cactus mix at their local nursery, which usually rests on top of sand. Just make sure that cactus mix is not too rich. If you use a mix, don’t forget to add lime to the soil.

If you want to go for a blend that is right for your pampas grass, mix equal parts of sand; peat; and perlite or vermiculite. With a shovel, mix the soil well into a hole that is at least twice the width of the pampas’ roots. If the hole is too wide, the roots will spread out too much. The deeper you go, the happier it will be. The planting hole should be between 12 to 18 inches deep. Ideally, pampas make an excellent house plant when they grow in a pot.

Water

Pampas grass grows naturally in grasslands, and it is well-suited for some types of landscape gardens. However, it does require a drier environment than many Florida homes and gardens. It gets its name from the tall white plumes that appear in late summer and early fall. It is fast growing and often reaches heights of more than 6 feet within a year.

Although it is a free-growing grass, you can make it look more natural in your landscape by shearing or clipping it to a desired height, allowing 3 feet for clippings to settle. Keep the soil moist when it is actively growing, watering deeply once a week and making sure the soil drains well. A layer of mulch is not recommended because it does not provide enough access to nutrients in the soil.

Pampas grass can be a large plant, and, therefore, it can require a lot of nutrients and a large amount of water. Your pampas grass will do well with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

The best fertilizer to use is one that has phosphorus and potassium, or a slow-release fertilizer. You do not need to fertilize in the winter months, or if you do, use fertilizer designed for winter conditions. Do not fertilize during the first 45 days after planting the grass. Stop fertilizing altogether after five years because the grass will not be able to use the added nutrients.

Pruning

Like most ornamental grasses, the pampas grass is a vigorous grower. You will need to cut the outer branches about once a month. Do this during hot, sunny days, and make sure that your pruning shears are sterilized, so you don’t spread disease to other plants.

The first cuts can be made immediately after the plant has flowered. The best way to do this is to use one hand to hold the upper part of the plant, and the other hand to guide the shears. You can also tie the plant to a stake, to ensure that you get a nice, even shape, and it’s easier to see where you are pruning. To shape the plant, cut just above a leaf node, which is where a new blade of grass or leaf sprout begins.

Cut the top sparingly. As the plant continues to grow, you will need to cut about an inch, at a time, from the bottom of the plant. If the grass gets too tall, the wind will damage or break the blades. Anything more than two feet tall is too tall.

Propagation

Pampas grass seeds can be collected from your plants and then stored in plastic bags in a cool and dry place for the next planting. Pampas grass is a cross pollinator and to keep the seeds uniform, choose plants that share the same parents.

For faster results, you can use the tip of the pampas flower to propagate the plant. When the petals have fallen, the stalk will remain. Cut it when you have access to a cutting basket. Fill the basket with a mixture of half perlite and half peat moss. Allow the cuttings to root in indirect sunlight and water the plant regularly. After about two months, the plant should be ready for transplanting.

Alternatively, use a rooting compound to propagate your pampas grass. When you buy the product, follow package instructions to successfully start growing pampas.

Harvesting the Flowers

Cortaderia selloana (syn. C. argentea, C. pumila) is a species of grass native to South America. It is fodder for cattle, as well as for human consumption. It is a tall ornamental grass. It is a fast growing plant as well.

As a perennial, Cortaderia selloana is always green. The shape of the leaves is similar to a ryegrass leaf, because they are flat and wide. The bright silver-green color of the stems makes it an attractive plant.

As the plant grows, the roots spread out and the grass becomes thicker. Some cuttings can remain alive for up to a month. Its flowers may be the same as the grasses growing in the wild, or they may have been changed through artificial means. The tall grass is an excellent sight during the day. It may become a great furnishing in your home, especially if you have a spacious garden.

Cortaderia selloana also has several ornamental effects. The most notable ones are the flowers. The flowers of the tall grass are pleasing to many. These are usually a good source of pollen for bees. The flowers usually grow in the late summer or fall. In the wild, the plant produces spikes with airy seeds. In the developed world, there are flowers in shades of pink that you can use for indoor decoration.

Pests And Diseases

Pampas grass can suffer from a number of ailments, some of which are caused by the minerals that are present in the soil. Using fertilizers that are specially designed for the plant will reduce the chances of the plant succumbing to these illnesses.

One of the most common diseases that affect pampas grass and that you may be able to treat yourself is Leaf Spot. This ailment will kill off the affected leaves, which can then become home to pathogens. A brown circular spot will appear on the lower part of the leaves, and if your plant becomes infected, a brown color will spread across them.

To prevent this disease, apply a mixture of equal parts water and fenarimol to the plant. Make sure to spray the lower parts of the leaves and the soil of the plant. Repeat this treatment once a week until the disease has passed, and try to prevent the plant from being exposed to direct sunlight, as this will only prolong the ailment.

The best treatment for an infection is to replace the plant immediately. If the plant has been in your garden for years and you don’t have another one of the same kind, try to replant the infected one in a shady area where it will have less exposure to the sun.

Frequently Asked Questions

My Pampas Grass does not grow as fast as I expected, is there something wrong with it?

A. Don’t worry, Pampas Grass is slow growing and you need to be patient.

This is my second year outside, will I get twice as much growth as last year?

A. No, pampas grass likes to take its time, and even then it will look sparse.

Pampas Grass is very good at escaping, is there anything I can do to prevent this?

A. Sure, you can build a fence, hedge, or wall around your Pampas Grass. Also, you can replant it in a pot or bag a couple of times a year.