Pampas grass is a native plant in the boundless grasslands of South America’s humid regions. Have you ever asked yourself when to plant pampas grass? This quick-growing grass can survive in any environment and thrives in moderate climates and fertile soil.
It grows to a height of 10 feet (3.048 meters) and more; therefore, there should be plenty of space between each clump of tussock and the other plantings in the same area.
When to Plant Pampas Grass?
Anytime between March and May in the spring is ideal for planting pampas grass. The best time, though, will vary depending on where you live. This is especially true if you want your pampas grass to mature later in the summer and reach 10 feet (3.048 meters).
Pampas grass provides more than an eye-catching appearance. One of the easiest decorative grasses to grow is this one. It’s a factor that affects your grass growth. Pampas grass flourishes in warm climates.
You can cultivate this grass in colder climates, but it won’t be able to reach the same height and won’t be able to grow year-round. It will grow best in an area with either full sun or well-drained soil because pampas grass favors these circumstances. Sowing pampas grass during dry late winter or early spring seasons is advisable since it won’t lose water from insufficient rainfall.
Its large root system extends outward from the stem’s base. Because of this, it is challenging to transfer; therefore, you should place it somewhere it can remain for several years or longer.
Although you can cultivate certain hardy cultivars in zone 6, pampas grass performs best in growing zones 7 to 11. For the highest flower output, you should plant the grass in full sun; however, it may tolerate some shade. Pampas need to be grown in soil that drains properly.
You can find it in California’s Central Valley, Western Transverse Ranges, Coast Ranges, and the Mojave Desert. Pampas grass has spread into the interior and coastal ecosystems, including coastal scrub, Monterey pine, grasslands, marshes, serpentine soils, and waterways.
How Fast Does Pampas Grass Grow?
The amount of light and water you expose to pampas grass determines how quickly it grows. Pampas can reach a height of 6 feet (1.83 meters) in one year if given enough water and sunlight, but if given insufficient amounts of either, they may take two years.
Pampas grass should fully mature two to four years after starting from seed. Additionally, this grass has a 15-year lifespan, according to some reports. It’s also considered a perennial, which implies that it blooms profusely in the first year after planting and germinates in the early spring.
When Does Pampas Grass Bloom?
Pampas grass is a long-leaved perennial plant with a height of up to 10 feet (3.048 meters) and a maturation period of three to five years. The pampas grass plant enjoys full sunlight and is resilient enough to tolerate different weather extremes, including droughts.
It can take around a year to mature enough for people to gather seeds from it, but this period will vary according to the environment and soil quality.
How to Care for Pampas Grass
Pampas grass maintenance is straightforward: To promote fresh, healthy growth, you should clip it and chop it back closer to the ground each year. Leaving a few inches of length will make your pampas grass plant resemble a little shrub that has undergone a buzz cut.
The best time to prune is in the late winter or early spring, and you should use the correct equipment and safety clothing because grass blades can be thorny and sharp. Given the hardiness and thickness of the plant, some gardeners even suggest using a chainsaw when pruning.
Can You Grow Pampas Grass in Pots?
Cortaderia selloana, often known as pampas grass, is an ornamental grass that grows in clumps and has a long blooming blade that emerges from the middle. The long, feather-like stem holds the seeds released when the perennial enters its dormant stage. Pampas grass clusters can grow to over 6 feet (1.83 meters).
You can plant pampas grass in containers for patios, decks, or indoor spaces, even though it is typically cultivated outside for privacy or as the centerpiece of a landscape design.
To help the pampas grass drain better, line the bottom of a 10-gallon (37.85 liters) potting container with tiny pebbles or rocks. Planting soil should fill the container 3/4 of the way.
Use a fork to rake the surface. Spread a tiny handful of pampas grass seeds evenly around the container’s middle. Add 1/4 inch (0.63 centimeters) of earth on top. Apply water until the surface is damp but not wet; apply water. Put the container in a window that faces south.
Once the seeds have sprouted, water the seedlings once a week. Before cutting, let seedlings reach a height of about 24 inches (0.6 meters).
Pampas Grass Growth Stages Explained
Pampas grass is a hardy plant that grows best in full sunlight. Early in a plant’s life, there are five stages of growth.
The seedling stage, which lasts for two to four weeks, is the initial stage. The tufting stage, which follows, lasts between one and three months. The lateral branching stage lasts six to nine months and is the third stage.
The fourth stage is the maturity or flowering stage, which lasts roughly a year or until it begins to generate seeds for reproduction. And ultimately, this grass goes through a development stage, which can take up to 10 to 15 years.
Considerations to Take When Planting Pampas Grass
When Should You Plant Pampas Grass
You should plant pampas grass in April for optimal results. Thanks to this, it has more than enough time to establish itself and develop the necessary strength for succeeding years and seasons.
How to Plant It
Because it is so simple to grow, pampas grass is a genuine threat. Scatter seeds on recently scraped soil, give them a gentle watering, and let nature take its course. Create the ideal germination environment with the water and the mild spring sunlight, and you’ll notice development immediately.
Cover your pampas seeds with a thin netting if birds enjoy your garden. Something that keeps curious beaks from causing trouble while allowing light to get through and providing room for fledgling growth.
What to Plant It
Though it will tolerate little shade, this plant prefers full sun. Pampas plants eventually grow shorter if you cultivate them in the shade. Make sure you choose a location that fits your goals for the plant because grasses that receive insufficient sunlight may fail to flower. Select a site with healthy drainage and wet soil.
One of the reasons it makes such excellent borders is because the grass is resistant to wind, drought, and other environmental challenges that could deter other plants. You don’t need to worry too much about the type of soil because the pampas grass plant doesn’t care too much about the acidity or composition of the soil.
Relocating and Propagating
You can move pampas grass by carefully uprooting it and replanting it in a hole slightly larger than the root ball. The transplanted grass will take better and be less likely to sustain damage if the root ball is gently pulled apart and water the soil after covering it. Replant a clump from an established plant to propagate it.
Female cuttings will establish themselves again after taking root. The more colorful and striking plumes of female plants are easy to identify.
Pampas grass requires only a small amount of fertilizer, but giving the plant a dose in the first year’s spring, summer, and fall will help it develop to its maximum potential.
Pampas grass doesn’t require irrigation unless you’re experiencing exceptionally severe drought conditions. This plant is native to dry areas and will do well if left alone.
After each growing season, cut your pampas grass back to the ground to promote the healthiest growth. Reduce the height to about 1.64 feet (0.5 meters). Earlier, we mentioned that the Latin name for pampas grass, Cortaderia, derives from the Spanish word for “cutter” in Argentina.
This is for a good reason you can salvage pampas! While pruning, you should use gloves and exercise caution to avoid nicking yourself. Avoid planting pampas grass in areas where kids or animals are likely to be present since it is spiky. Be cautious if you’re growing close to a road because it’s tall as well.
The grass’s likelihood of growing long enough to restrict visibility is very high. You can mulch the plant’s base and cover it with cardboard, netting, or something similar to increase its resistance to damage over the winter.
This will protect the roots from the cold and insulate them. As we previously stated, the plant can endure even the coldest US temperatures, but a little more assistance is always welcome.
Pampas grass is invasive, so it does not naturally occur in any species’ diets. It is unlikely to bother it when growing, whether in the wild or in your yard. What a treat, you won’t likely run into any bugs with this plant! If you are propagating the plant, look closely for insects or their nests because insects live inside the plant.
You should not propagate a plant with active residents because it could disseminate them to other areas of your yard.
Which Type of Pampas Grass to Choose
Although other varieties come from New Zealand and New Guinea, Cortaderia selloana, a South American species, is the most frequently grown. There are 24 species with a range in size and color. Due to its relative compactness and eye-catching white plumes that contrast with the mid-green foliage in late summer and early fall, “Pumila” is rightly popular.
This plant can get as tall as two meters. Try “Sunningdale Silver” if you want an architectural plant that requires a lot of space to flourish. It features thickly fluffy white heads on arching stalks with tussocky grey-green foliage. It will be 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) broad and up to 9.8 feet (3 meters) tall.
If you have limited room, go with “Silver Feather.” Finding this little, compact plant with its arching stems, shimmering silver-white plumes, and variegated green and cream foliage is worthwhile. It will heighten to roughly one meter.
Pampas Grass Issues
Besides its propensity to self-seed and expand in undesirable places, pampas grass offers minimal challenges due to its resistance to most illnesses and tolerance of even the driest growing conditions.
Early spring is a good time to divide a plant if it grows too big. It is recommendable that you cultivate this highly combustible far from homes and sheds in hot regions where wildfires are a problem to lessen the chance of a fire.
How to Dry Pampas Grass
- Trim the stems in late August or early September, when the plant is in its first full bloom. Pick a dry day, and harvest once the dew has dried afternoon.
- Use string to bind a group of three or four stems. Create a hanging loop.
- Hang the bunch upside-down in a warm, dry location, ensuring air can flow around it.
- Take a two- to three-week vacation.
- After the plumes have dried, flip them over, fluff them gently with your fingertips, and spray some hairspray before arranging them in a rustic vase or an old glass carboy.
Our Top Pampas Grass Growing Tips
Be Prepared for a Long-Term Commitment
Pampas grass takes yearly maintenance and is hard to remove once planted; thus, you should not plant it lightly. Pampas grass can be a gorgeous addition to your yard, but you shouldn’t grow it lightly. If you sow those seeds, pampas grass will dominate your garden for years.
If you cultivate grass pampas and decide six months later you don’t like it, you may have a lifelong battle with this obstinate plant.
Understand the Difference Between Selloana and Jubata
Choosing poorly can be disastrous. We consider one cultivar of pampas grass as the worst of the bad. Pampas grass is a spiky, dun-colored plant that makes your garden look overgrown, neglected, and unattractive.
Each plume generates up to 100,000 seeds that can spread 20 miles (32 186.9 meters), making jubata hard to manage and earning it a top place on the California Invasive Plant Council’s list of most notorious weeds. If you find jubata grass seeds in a nursery, choose Cortaderia selloana instead.
Pampas grass is invasive, but you can control it with some work, and it has fluffy, attractive plumes.
Choose Colors to Match Your Garden Design
Pampas grass is famous for its white plumes. You should know that you can produce it in a soft pink shade. This gives your space a distinctive appearance. With that in mind, decide if you want the white pampas grass plumes famous for being fluffy or the pink kind that adds a splash of color and a wild, windswept appearance.
Give Your Grass Plenty of Room
A tiny garden is not the best location to grow several pampas grass plants. Due to the abundance of pampas grass, placing each one six to eight feet away from the last is preferable to allow for enough growth. Planting pampas grass too closely together tends to grow in a twisted mess that makes your otherwise lovely garden look unattractive.
Plant Your Pampas Grass in the Sunniest Part of Your Garden
Although pampas grass is a very hardy plant that thrives in most situations, it favors bright, sunny locations. Therefore, professionals advise that you pick a site in your garden that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily.
Partial shade will allow your plant to flourish, but pampas grass won’t grow as well and will be more prone to disease. The more sunlight your lawn receives, the better it will generally be.
Plant Your Grass Away from Fire and Neighbors Gardens
Finding a sunny area will help your grass, but there are other crucial aspects that you must also consider when deciding where to put your new pampas grass. We’re dealing with a highly combustible plant; therefore, it’s not a good idea to grow it near your grill, barbecue, or fire pit.
Also, remember that pampas grass can catch fire and spread quickly, so it’s better to keep it away from other objects that might catch fire, such as bird tables and patio furniture. Consider the self-sewing properties of pampas grass as an alternative. The wind can carry pampas grass seeds for long distances, and they will grow—or at least try to—everywhere they fall.
As a result, grow pampas grass as far away from your neighbors’ gardens as possible to limit the likelihood of this happening.
Plant Seeds in the Spring for Best Results
Pampas grass grows well in the plant hardiness zones seven to eleven of the United States Department of Agriculture and flourishes in warmer temperatures. In light of this, you’ll discover that the ideal time when to plant pampas grass seeds in a garden is in early spring.
As the temperature rises, the grass starts to bloom and, in a few months, will begin to grow those tall, 10- to 13-foot (3.05- to 3.96-meter) plumes, allowing you to enjoy the full effect of your ornamental grass by the summer. Before that, you can add getting the seedlings ready to your list of winter gardening chores.
When you pot seeds in your greenhouse, they have plenty of time to germinate and grow into resilient seedlings that will yield greater results when planted in your garden.
Pampas Grass Prefers well-draining soil
Although it may seem obvious to some, many novice gardeners don’t realize how much the appropriate soil can affect a plant’s long-term health. While you might be able to get away with planting your pampas grass in whatever ground you happen to have in your garden, you’ll have a better chance of success if you properly prepare the ground first.
Some plants thrive in various types of soil than others. Although it’s possible to add other elements to your current soil to produce a rich foundation for your grass to flourish, pampas grass needs well-drained, fertile soil like Burpee’s Natural Organic Premium Growing Mix.
Use Quartz Sand to Prevent Water-Logging
Quartz sand is a fantastic additional component to consider in your soil. Any natural quartz sand will do; however, FairmountSantrol’s chemical-free, natural sand is what we choose. This cheap mineral will come in handy in an area with heavy rainfall because it will stop water logging, which would otherwise harm your pampas grass.
Water Immediately After Planting
Once they are firm in the ground, some plant species require no watering. One of them is not pampas grass. Once you plant the seeds, grab your hose and begin immediately watering deeply. Even though you won’t need to water your plant frequently, providing it with plenty of water at first will undoubtedly promote growth.
Cut Back on Watering as Your Plant Grows
Pampas grass can withstand severe droughts very well. As a result, some gardeners would advise you that after the initial watering, there is no need to ever go near it again with that hose pipe. Others argue that to ensure that the soil is evenly moist during the first few months, it is best to irrigate your lawn every few weeks.
Once your plant has established and grown, you should put the hose aside and allow the rain to provide your grass with the necessary moisture. Feel free to resume watering your lawn if the periods of extreme drought prolong to keep it healthy.
Create a Plan for Managing Your Pampas Grass Growth
If we didn’t make this point clear enough, let us repeat it: Pampas grass care requires a lot of maintenance. In light of this, it is wise to plan how you will care for your grass as it begins to overtake your garden.
Set aside time on your gardening calendar to cut the grass short and keep it from growing too long. You could find it useful to get a friend to assist you with the trimming and pruning if your grass grows abundantly.
Prune Every Year to Keep Grass Under Control
Regarding upkeep, a short five minutes with your favorite hand shears won’t cut it because pampas grass grows quickly and abundantly. Instead, get a pair of high-quality hedge shears and trim the plant down. In our experience, the best time to do this is from mid-February to late March.
But there’s no reason you have to wait until then if your grass is obviously out of control. It is technically feasible to burn the plant to the ground, but because of how flammable it is, this is only advisable if you are confident in your ability to confine the fire.
Take Extra Care When Pruning
The grass contains spiky foliage, resulting in some pretty unpleasant wounds and scrapes. On a similar, safety-related point. When it’s time to prune, wear a long-sleeved shirt and some heavy gardening gloves to protect your skin.
Propagate in Late-Winter/Early Spring
The pampas grass center dies after five years, causing minimal new growth and unattractive, dried-out leaves. You can propagate grass in September, but early spring is best. After the last frost but before new plants sprout is the optimum time to give your grass time to heal and re-establish its roots. To propagate, trim grass low.
The central clump of pampas grass will die (or dead), surrounded by infant shoots. Spade out the healthy sprouts from the dead bunch. You should plant young growth at the same depth. Water pampas grass as if it were a new plant and keep the soil moist until it establishes. Most plants are female. Wide, seedy plumes, 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.44 meters) between plants.
Combine With Other Grasses and Shrubs for a Stunning Garden Design
While pampas grass already has a stunning appearance, combining it with other ornamental grasses and shrubs can improve its aesthetic appeal. For instance, the contrast between the delicate, soft whites of pampas grass and the vibrant hues of Red Twig Dogwood can provide some striking effects.
Tall Verbena, Autumn Joy, Fountain Grass, and Forest Pansy are some other suggested plants for pampas grass.
As you can see, eliminating pampas grass is not exactly a simple task. Therefore, if you do decide to plant it, you only have two options: either stay in it for the long haul and have pampas grass growing in your garden for years to come, or put in a lot of effort to get rid of it and run the risk of harming your garden.
Even though it requires a lot of labor, pampas grass is the only ornamental grass that has the same sense of dramatic beauty. Cortaderia selloana truly does make a magnificent addition to any garden, especially when used as a border or to bring the form to a wider space. Its long, feathery plumes flutter gently in the air.