The popularity of pampas grass has ebbed and flowed over the years. While it was once a staple in 1970s décor, it then became old-fashioned. However, pampas grass is making a comeback, and if you want to give growing this unique plant a try, here’s how to do so.
When to plant pampas grass: Pampas grass has gorgeous, tall plumes that make for quite the statement, both in your garden and in your home. You should start with small plants on the grass and put them in your garden after the last spring frost date. Pampas grass grows best in areas with hot temperatures and high humidity. However, it is a very hardy plant so is also a good choice if you have very cold winters. In early spring, cut your pampas grass back down to the ground. This will encourage new growth. The flowers and plumage will last from summer to early fall.
Planting Pampas Grass in Different Climates
Most varieties of pampas grass originate in South America. Pampas grass likes warm temperatures and is fine with high humidity.
Pampas grass is a drought-tolerant plant. It will do just fine in a dry climate.
Pampas grass will grow in a temperate climate. This is a versatile plant and will thrive in most areas.
A continental climate is perfect for pampas grass because it can withstand colder temperatures. It might be a bit shorter in height, but it will keep growing each year.
Pampas grass is quite hardy, so you might have some luck in a polar climate. However, you might want to cover it in the winter to keep it insulated.
Choosing Pampas Grass Seeds
A common variety is a compact pampas grass that will grow to be about 6 feet tall, although it will take a few years to reach its full height. The flowers range in color from white to beige and the variety is tolerable for both very hot and very cold temperatures.
If you love pampas grass but want a smaller version, this variety will do well. It still grows well but tops out at about 4 feet in height. You can find the variety in a range of colors from pale yellow to ivory.
For a more unique pampas grass look, this variety will delight it has a gray-green color and will grow to be about 6 feet tall.
How to Plant Pampas Grass
Start with plants
Yes, you can technically start with pampas grass seeds, but it’s much easier to start with small plants. This will save you a lot of time and energy.
You can find pampas grass at your local gardening center. If you are a more advanced gardener, you can also try asking a neighbor if you can take a small section of their established plant.
Pampas grass can grow to be quite large, so take this into consideration. Some varieties will grow up to 6 feet tall, and some even larger.
Plant your pampas grass where there is plenty of space, both around the plant and above it. You don’t want it to hit the top of a walkway or grow into the space of other plants.
Your pampas grass will spread out as it grows, so keep about a foot between each plant.
As for sunlight, pampas grass does best with full sun although if need be, you can plant it in partial shade. Take into consideration any nearby structures such as your house, a fence, or a tree, to determine how much shade there will be while growing.
Another factor to consider with pampas grass is that the edges of the blades are quite sharp. You should plant it far enough back from a walkway or where children gather to prevent any unwanted scratches or cuts.
Pampas grass does best in soil that drains well. It does not need soil that is super-rich in nutrients but you can give it a head start by mixing some compost into the soil before planting.
You can choose to plant pampas grass in your garden or plant it in a container. However, in a container, the size can be stifled so expect shorter grass.
The best time to plant pampas grass is just after the last frost date in the spring. You can plant within a few weeks of this, which will be the end of May or the beginning of June.
Pampas grass will survive colder winters but you want the plant to be as established as possible before winter hits.
How to Water Pampas Grass
A major benefit to pampas grass is that it is drought-tolerant. As long as you live in an area that gets occasional rainfall, this should be enough to sustain it.
After you initially plant your pampas grass, you should water it regularly to allow the roots to take hold. However, as you will plant in late spring, there should be a decent rainfall to help with the plant.
After your pampas grass is established, you only need to water it at the height of summer or if you are in the middle of a heat wave.
How to Grow Pampas Grass
Adding fertilizer to your pampas grass is not a necessity. The plant takes very few nutrients from the soil and while fertilizer can make the plant stronger, if you forget or don’t choose to add fertilizer, it will still grow well.
Those that want to add fertilizer should use a balanced one, add the fertilizer either in early spring or late winter so that new growth is encouraged.
The tall stems of pampas grass should be pruned once a year. This will clean the plant up and will also encourage new growth.
Late winter or early spring is the best time for annual pruning. You should cut the grass right to the ground but don’t worry as it will quickly grow again in the spring and summer.
When pruning your pampas grass, always wear protective gloves and eye protection. You should also consider pants and a long-sleeve shirt to protect yourself from sharp blades.
It is easy to divide your pampas grass. You can do this to add more grass to your garden or if you want to share it with a neighbor.
Wait until after you have pruned your pampas grass in early spring. Then, take a sharp shovel and cut through the plant into the soil.
Take your time and dig all the way around the part of the plant that you want to remove. It should come out as a large clump, complete with roots.
Dig a hole for your new grass, making sure it is spaced out enough from other plants. Fill in the hole from where you dug out the grass.
How long does pampas grass take to grow?
Pampas grass is best when started as a small plant. When you plant in late spring, the grass will already be starting to grow and it will continue through the summer.
The tall plumage that makes pampas grass so unique will stay in its place through early fall. Then, the grass will die back during winter.
Prune the grass down to the ground in early spring. Pampas grass is a perennial and it will grow again each spring.
How to dry pampas grass
If you want to use pampas grass in your home’s décor, you will need to dry it first. This way the grass will become harder and more durable, and won’t break down.
Cut the pampas grass you want, making sure you cut at the base of the stem. This way you will have longer grass to work with and it will be more versatile.
Use a piece of string and tie the stems together. Hang everything upside down in a dry, cool place. Pampas grass takes about three weeks to fully dry.
How to use pampas grass
There are many ways you can use pampas grass in your home’s décor. Here are a few inspirational ideas.
It can be hard to find flowers and foliage in the fall but dried pampas grass is a real winner. The oatmeal color lends itself as a neutral background to the faded reds and browns of other fall finds.
You may think pampas grass on its own is a bit dull but it actually makes quite the effect if you leave a small bouquet as a statement. Place it in a white or beige-colored vase and the neutral colors together will make a bold statement.
Make it colorful
After you have dried your pampas grass, you can actually experiment with dying it. Soft pink or bold black are just a few ways you can transform your grass.
Pampas grass is a great addition to your garden as it provides a lovely height and depth. You can leave the grass or you can cut it off, dry it, and make a statement in your own home.