Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) is hardy to -12.2 degrees Celsius and grows well in USDA plant hardiness zone 7. It is a large decorative grass with sharp, serrated leaves and can grow 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide under optimal conditions. The outstanding feature of the pampas grass plant is the tall white plumes produced in the fall.
Pampas Grass Care
Pampas grass grows best in coastal conditions and can withstand extreme heat and high humidity. It is adaptable to most soils within its range. Pampas grass is extremely drought tolerant once established but looks best when given supplemental moisture during the growing season. It should not be watered in the winter to prevent rot. Pampas grass grows best in full sun but will tolerate part shade.
Pampas Grass in the Landscape
Pampas grass is used as a screen, barrier or as a single specimen plant. It is attractive planted in groups of three. The leaves are very sharp and can easily cut bare skin, so plant pampas grass where pedestrians or children will not come into contact with the foliage. Rodents and snakes often take shelter in the thick growth; plant pampas grass away from the house or other structures.
Pruning Pampas Grass
Prune pampas grass to clear away the foliage that was been killed by frost the previous winter. Because the dead foliage is used for insulation during the winter, cut the foliage in early spring before new growth begins. Use a sharp pruning tool to cut foliage as low as 24 inches or to the point where you see new green growth. Pruning tools may include handheld or electric shears or a machete or chainsaw if the specimen is particularly large.
Types of Pampas Grass
There are several varieties of pampas grass available in the nursery trade. There is at least one dwarf variety available and one with pastel pink plumes. New varieties available include one with variegated leaves. When buying pampas grass, look for the female plants as they have fuller and more numerous plumes than the male plant.