How to Plant and Grow Pampas GrassBY SARA PALI | JULY 29TH, 2022 | BLOG, LAWN CARE
Pampas grass is an ornamental grass with dramatic foliage that produces beautiful showstoppers in landscapes and floral arrangements. Before learning how to plant and grow pampas grass, you need to understand the plant’s needs and when to plant it.
This article will show you:
- When to plant pampas grass
- How to plant pampas grass
- Best growing conditions for pampas grass
- Pampas grass care and pruning
- Uses for pampas grass
- The cons of pampas grass
- Popular pampas grass varieties
When to Plant Pampas Grass
The best time to plant pampas grass is in early spring, between March and May. This warm-season ornamental grass grows best at temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to Plant Pampas Grass
You can grow pampas grass from seed in three easy steps.
- Sow the pampas grass seed in a tray in mid-winter. Lightly press grass seeds on top of well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist and indoors in temperatures above 65 degrees. The grass seeds require light and take 14-28 days to germinate.
- Transplant the grass seeds into small, individual containers once they begin to sprout.
- After the threat of frost is over, the grass seeds are slightly bushy, and the roots are well-developed, move the plants into your garden.
It takes 2 to 3 years from planting the pampas grass seeds until their feathery plumes form. If you don’t want to wait, garden nurseries and hardware stores often sell more mature plants in 1-gallon and 3-gallon containers.
Best Growing Conditions for Pampas Grass
Pampas grass grows best in full sun. It tolerates partial shade, so climates in the USDA zones 7-11 are ideal. You’ll find it along the coast of California, the Central Valley, Western Transverse Ranges, and the Mojave Desert. Pampas grass prefers moist, well-draining soil preferring temperatures 75 degrees or higher and high humidity levels.
Pampas grass tolerates salt spray and high winds, often growing as high as 6 feet in one year. When growing pampas grass from seed, the plant will take from 2 to 4 years to reach full maturity. Because of its size, it needs a lot of space. If creating a hedge, leave 6 to 8 feet between each plant.
Pampas Grass Care and Pruning
You will need to water occasionally if planting pampas grass in a container, but once in the ground, pampas grass is low maintenance. No need for additional watering since it thrives on natural rainfall. Applying mulch around the root zones should keep out weeds and keep the soil moist.
Pampas grass requires yearly pruning in late winter. Use shears to cut the plant as close to ground level as possible.
- Wear gloves and long sleeves to avoid cuts from its sharp leaf blades.
- Watch for rodents, insects, and snakes. Pampas grass provides a habitat for various animals.
- Apply fertilizer to stimulate new growth.
- Remove debris, so unwanted grass seeds don’t spread. Use the brown blades as mulch.
Over time pampas grass becomes overcrowded, and the center of the plant dies. Propagation keeps the grass healthy and grows new plants. You can do this in the spring by slicing clumps of grass and planting them in another location.
Uses for Pampas Grass
Pampas grass prevents soil erosion with its strong root system. Once established, it has very few pest problems, and deer don’t find it appealing. Since it’s drought-tolerant, it makes an excellent grass alternative.
- Privacy hedge: Its height and fullness make pampas grass a great choice around pools and yards.
- Shade: The tall leaves block out the sun.
- Background plant: Pampas grass provides texture in flower beds. Its feathery plumes add color from late summer into late winter when other flowers are no longer blooming.
- Home decor: The feathery plumes can be cut and used in floral decorations. Dried pampas feathery plumes are popular for wedding arrangements. Its neutral colors make it versatile in many color pallets.
The Cons of Pampas Grass
Like all plants, pampas has its downsides.
- Potential fire hazard: Avoid planting pampas grass close to buildings as dry foliage can become flammable.
- Spreads easily: Pampas grass produces lots of seeds that carry in the wind, allowing them to spread into neighboring yards.
- Invasive: Pampas grass is native to South America and is considered an invasive species in California, Hawaii, and New Zealand. Due to its strong root systems, pampas grass is difficult to remove if you decide you no longer want it in your landscape.
Pampas Grass Varieties
Pampas grass has grass-like foliage and feathery plumes that come in a variety of colors, including white, cream, lavender, and pink. This ornamental grass also comes in several varieties.
Dwarf varieties of pampas grass are the smallest and shortest of the species. Reaching a height of 3 to 6 feet and a width of 3 to 4 feet, dwarf pampas grass grows in zones 6 to 10. It has green foliage and white, feathery plumes.
Gold band pampas grass grows in zones 7 to 11. It grows 6 to 10 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide. Its foliage is green with a lengthwise yellow stripe, and its feathery plume is white.
Andes silver pampas grass grows 5 to 7 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. Grown in zones 6 to 10, it has a silvery-white, feathery plume and gray-green foliage.
Silver comet pampas grass has a creamy-white, feathery plume. Its foliage is green with two white stripes on each blade’s edges. Grown in zones 7 to 10, silver comet pampas grass grows to a height and width of 4 to 6 feet.
Purple Pampas Grass
Purple pampas grass is also known as Andean pampas grass. It’s the tallest and largest on this list, growing to heights of 15 to 20 feet tall and up to 19 feet wide. With deep green foliage and purple or pink feathery plumes, purple pampas grass grows in zones 7 to 11.
Male and female flowers differ in pampas grass, with the female plants displaying more color. Male plants lack the silky hairs that cover the flowers and make pampas grass so dramatic. Pampas grass is often propagated by separating the female and male clumps.
FAQs About Growing Pampas Grass
1. Does pampas grass come back every year?
Yes. Pampas grass is a perennial plant that grows from spring through fall. It goes dormant in the winter.
2. Is pampas grass poisonous to dogs?
No. According to the ASPCA, pampas grass is non-toxic to dogs, cats, and horses, but the sharp edges can sometimes cut their paws.
3. When does pampas grass bloom?
Pampas grass blooms in late summer through early fall. In warmer climates, it can bloom throughout the winter.
4. How do I dry pampas grass to use in a floral arrangement?
Wrap the stems together with some string and hang them upside down in a dry place for about three weeks. Use care when handling the dry stems to keep the plumes from shedding.
5. How do I care for pampas grass in a floral arrangement?
You’ll need to cut pampas grass’s feathery plumes when they become fluffy before they begin to shed. Inspect plumes for insects and lightly shake to remove. To prevent further shedding once cut, lightly spray with aerosol hairspray. Hang to dry.
When indoors, keep pampas grass plumes away from direct sunlight and high humidity. Pampas grass’s feathery plumes last up to 2 years when dried.
6. How do I remove pampas grass?
Removing pampas grass can be labor-intensive. UC Master Gardeners of Napa County recommends removing the plant by hand when the soil is moist, before its feathery plumes bloom. You’ll need to remove the roots as well.
If you love the feathery plumes but don’t want to deal with pampas grass’s sharp blades, we can help you find a landscaping professional near you who will plant and prune your plants.
Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!