If you need a large grass that makes a big statement for a large landscape, look for pampas grass. It stands at a staggering 8- to 12-feet tall. With showy flowers opening in August and lasting through February, pampas grass is a valuable member of the winter landscape. Plant it in landscape beds, or use it as a living screen.
In states such as California and Hawaii, pampas grass is identified as an invasive plant and is not recommended because it self-seeds and spreads to form dense colonies. Check the planting regulations regarding pampas grass before planting it in your area.
Pampas Grass in the Landscape
Pampas grass is a hard-working landscape plant. Use it to create a living screen or a border backdrop by planting three to five plants together. Pampas grass is good for erosion control and stabilizing stream banks. Or plant it in landscape beds as a focal point plant. It offers multiple seasons of interest as its white plumes develop and then age to a tawny brown. Pampas grass can also be grown in containers. In Zones 6 and below grow pampas grass in large containers and overwinter it in a greenhouse or heated garage.
Pampas Grass Must-Knows
Pampas grass grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It will tolerate light shade, but dense shade will cause it to become floppy. Once established pampas grass is drought tolerant and deer resistant. It has few pest problems and tolerates salt spray, making it an ideal plant for coastal landscapes.
Prune pampas grass in late winter to remove the previous year's foliage and make way for new growth. Power hedge shears are often the best tool for pruning the plant's dense growth at ground level. Pampas grass has sharp blades, so wear a long-sleeve shirt and jeans or slacks to protect your skin.
The flowers of pampas grass are prized for dried floral arrangements. Harvesting and drying your own flowers is simple. Cut the flowers as soon as they fully emerge but before they are mature and shedding. Let the stems dry in a cool, dark place. After the stems are dry, spray them with a light coat of hairspray to prevent shedding.
More Varieties of Pampas Grass
Dwarf pampas grass
Cortaderia selloana 'Pumila,' also know as 'Ivory Feathers,' is a dwarf variation of pampas grass that grows 3- to 5-feet tall and 4- to 6-feet wide. It has long stalks of dramatic, creamy white plumes held above green foliage. This smaller form is well-suited for small landscapes. Zones 7–11