If you want to bring a new dynamic to your garden, then try planting pampas grass. This ornamental grass is popular in American gardens, even though it’s technically an invasive species.
Pampas grass produces thousands of seeds at the end of the growing season, and strong winds can carry the seeds over lengthy distances. Pampas grass germinates in a variety of climate conditions, and almost any soil mixture.
Once pampas grass establishes itself, it can take over the area within a season. However, prudent gardeners can keep pampas grass under control with some end-of-season maintenance. Both South Carolina and California list pampas grass as an invasive species, and it’s also in the global invasive-species database.
Growing Pampas Grass
Still, pampas grass is beautiful and complements other plants in your garden. The grass also makes a fantastic filler for areas of the garden that look sparse, such as around the pool or the corners of your yard.
All your pampas grass needs to thrive, is a sunny growing site, with fertile soil. We outlined a brief growing guide for pampas grass to give you an idea of the techniques used to manage these grasses in your yard.
It’s crucial for you to plant your grass in the early spring, as planting in the fall or winter may impede its growth the following summer season.
Starting with Seed
Unlike most other plants, growing pampas grass from seed is easy. All you need to do is select your variety, and then sow your seeds in the early springtime. Pick a spot in your yard that receives direct sunlight all day, and sow your seeds.
Don’t cover the seeds with soil, as the heat from the sunlight and a light watering are all the seeds need to germinate. We suggest that you give the soil a light raking before you sow your seeding. Raking the ground loosens the soil, providing aeration to the roots of the grass, allowing it to thrive.
However, if you live in an area with plenty of birds, you’ll need to cover the planting area with netting to stop the birds from eating your seeds. If you don’t have any netting, then you can start your seeds in pots or trays indoors and then transplant to the garden after it gets to an inch in height.
Starting your seeds indoors is also a good idea if you live in colder regions of the United States. Mix up a growing medium using sol and perlite in a 2:1 ratio.
By adding perlite to the soil, you get better drainage. Always ensure that your container has adequate drainage, and wet soil may cause root rot in your grass.
Choosing the Right Planting Site for Your Pampas Grass
When selecting the ideal spot in your yard for your pampas grass, you need to take into account the final height and width of the grass flowerbed you plant. Pampas grass grows wide and tall, and if you don’t account for the growth, it could result in the area looking cluttered.
Select an area of your yard that receives full sunlight throughout the day. Planting in shady areas is possible with pampas grass, but you need to be aware that the lack of sunlight will affect the final height of the grass, and some species might not flower without direct sunlight all day.
Avoid planting your pampas grass next to the driveway or the road. This grass grows tall and wide, and it may obstruct your view of the road and the driver’s view of your driveway. Don’t plant the grass near any air-conditioning units, as the blades of grass might end up caught in the machines fan.
Make sure that you keep the grass away for any areas of the yard where children play. Pampas grass looks beautiful when flowering, but the leaves have razor-sharp edges, and children might cut themselves if they try to pull on the grass or fall into the grass by mistake.
If you’re transplanting pampas grass, then dig a hole that’s the width and height of the plant’s root system. Place some mulch or fertilized potting soil in the hole, and then add the grass. Pampas grass doesn’t need lots of fertilizer to grow tall and healthy.
Use your hands to separate the root ball before planting, and gently pat down the soil around the roots after planting. Water the grass thoroughly to reduce transplant shock.
Caring for Your Pampas Grass
Always water your newly planted grass thoroughly after transplanting. The roots require plenty of moisture to recover from the stress of the transplant. Failing to water your pampas grass could stunt its growth, or cause it to die.
Ensure that you keep the soil uniformly moist. Push your finger an inch into the soil. If it feels moist, then your grass is fine. However, if it’s dry, it means that the roots aren’t getting the moisture they need.
During the first year after planting, fertilize your grass in the early spring, early summer, and at the beginning of the fall. After the first year of growth, cut back on your fertilizing protocol, and only fertilize the grass in the early spring.
It might take up to 3-years for your grass to establish itself and bloom. Every year, you’ll need to prune away old grass and trim the roots of grasses that are becoming wild and overgrowing in the planting site.
Dividing Pampas Grass
You can propagate your pampas grass in late August to early September before the winter rolls around. However, we recommend that you do your propagation in the early springtime, after the last frosts land on the ground. Check your local listing for frost dates in your area and plan accordingly.
Propagating in the early spring gives the pampas grass the entire growing season to grow a strong root system. Follow these steps when propagating your pampas grass.
- Cut the grass back to 1 to 2-feet in length until you can see the base of the plant.
- Examine the stems of the grass at the soil level.
- You should see that shoots are forming at the base.
- Using a sharp knife, cut away the new growth from the middle of the plant.
- Plant your new grass clumps at a similar depth to what they were used to with the mother plant.
- Water thoroughly to reduce transplant shock.
- Always make sure you wear gloves and a shirt, as you might cut yourself on the sharp edges of the grass.
Pests and Diseases Affecting Pampas Grass
Pampas grass is an invasive species. Therefore, it does not serve as a food source for any animals like deer and rabbits. Many insects and birds like to nest in the grass, so be careful when propagating in the early springtime.
Pampas grass does occasionally experience an infection with a fungus that shows up as spots. This fungus typically arrives during warm and rainy parts of the season. Use a general plant fungicide to treat the infection and restore your pampas grass to health.
Ornamental and Decorative Purposes
Pampas grass is popular as it creates an ornamental feature in your garden. This decorative grass produces large plumes of flowers that look attractive. Pampas grass is ideal for planting in the western states, as the plant is hardy and drought-resistant.
If you live close to the ocean, pampas grass is ideal for planting around your yard, as the salty air doesn’t damage the grass. Many hotels and guesthouses on the beach use pampas grass as a windbreak and for beach-front landscapes.
Pampas grass grows anywhere from 6 to 13-foot tall, and it spreads to a width of the same height in most cases. Use this grass to create privacy around your patio or pool, and plant it in the corners of your yard to give your garden a seamless look and feel.
Overwintering Pampas Grass
Pampas grass can survive the cold months of winter, and even snowfall provided that you prepare it for the winter season.
During the last days of fall, cut back any old foliage to make room for new growth the following season. We recommend long-handle loopers for trimming your pampas grass. Make sure you remove all of the flower stalks that are blooming, as the seeds may spread into your neighbor’s yard and start to grow wild.
Remove any stalks that are over 1-foot in height. Before you trim, use string to tie the plant together. This process helps to drain any excess water from the plant before cutting. If you live in a region of the United States, then you can overwinter your pampas grass without any hassle.
Spread mulch around the base of the plant and cover it with burlap to provide the grass with protection from the cold. Remove the burlap in the early springtime after the last frosts fall. Using this method, the roots of your pampas grass stay warm and dry during the wintertime, ensuring that your plant survives the season and thrives the following summer.