Scientific: Cortaderia selloana
Common: pampas grass
Family: Poaceae
Origin: Argentina grasslands

Pronounciation: Cor-ta-DER-e-a sel-lo-A-na

Hardiness zones
Sunset
12-24
USDA 8-11

Landscape Use: Seascape, soil stabilization, background, floral accent

Form & Character: Wispy and large (except dwarf cultivar which are slightly more bunched), spectacular pompous and regal flower display.

Growth Habit: Large, robust, tussock bunch grass up to 15 feet in diameter; flowering stalks up to 20 feet high.

Foliage/Texture: Long leaves are blade like, slightly glaucous, reflexed, tips narrowly tapering, bristle-like, blade often v-shaped in cross section, margins rough, stiffly and finely serrated, dangerous; leaves mostly basal to two-thirds of the height of the flowing stalks. MAJOR PAPER CUT (DEEP WOUND) TIME IF HANDLED WITHOUT GLOVES!.....fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Pampas grass inflorescence is borne on a long stalk. Panicled flowers are silvery or creamy white to pink or mauve, feathery to 2 to 3 feet long. Stalks are 10 to 15 feet in height. Fruits are white, persistent on the stalk.

Seasonal Color: Flower stalks, summer through fall.

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Tolerant of almost any soil condition; VERY salt tolerant.

Watering: Needs only limited supplemental water

Pruning: Hmmm....the very best way to rejuvenate and control this plant is to burn it to the ground every 2 to 3 years. Be sure to check with your local fire department before doing this because of the highly regulated world that we now live in and the tendency for tenderfoot urban folks to freak out over what otherwise is an ecologically based management solution. Otherwise, if the 'powers that be' threaten fines or jail time over an action that makes too much sense, you'll have to resort to pruning your big clumps of pampas grass severely to near ground level. In the process of pruning pampas grass, be VERY careful by wearing double gloves to not get major deep paper cuts. After pruning, you'll have to load the mega-mass of fibrous debris into your local dumpster so it can be taken off to help fill up your local landfill. Trimmings from pampas grass do not compost.

Propagation: Prolific seed producer, propagates easily by seed.

Disease and pests: None, never.

Additional comments: Because of the difficulties of maintaining this large bunch grass plant, make sure that it has sufficient space in which to grow. Don't overcrowd!

Many named cultivars. 'Sunningdale Silver' and 'Rosea' (pink flowers) are nice prolific flowering cultivars. 'Aureolineata' has yellow leaf margins. 'Pumila' is a dwarf cultivar.

Invasive alert: Pampas grass has naturalized across the western United States in disturbed urban sites with limited supplemental moisture, especially in western California and Oregon. Pampas grass also accumulates large amounts of flammable thatch (dead biomass).