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Publication #FPS145

Cortaderia selloana Pampas Grass1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

Pampas grass forms large, impressive clumps, 8 to 10 feet high and wide, with beautiful silver to white feathery plumes arising on female plants in summer and autumn (Fig. 1). This vigorous ornamental grass is widely used as a lawn specimen, but its quick growth rate and large size make it unsuitable for most home landscapes. However, it is ideal for barrier or windbreak plantings and has a place in larger areas such as along highways or in commercial or industrial landscapes.

Figure 1. 

Pampas grass.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Cortaderia selloana
Pronunciation: kor-tuh-DEER-ee-uh sel-loe-AY-nuh
Common name(s): pampas grass
Family: Poaceae
Plant type: ornamental grass; perennial; herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 5B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: border; mass planting; specimen; accent; cut flowers
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range
Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 8 to 10 feet
Spread: 8 to 10 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: fast
Texture: fine

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: serrate
Leaf shape: linear
Leaf venation: parallel
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: more than 36 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Flower

Flower color: pink
Flower characteristic: fall flowering; summer flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: tan
Fruit characteristic: persists on the plant

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: not applicable
Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: moderate
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: sprouts from roots or lower trunk
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

In sun or partial shade, pampas grass grows well in most soils except very wet ones, tolerating drought and salt spray, making it especially attractive for seaside landscapes. Be careful in the placement of pampas grass in the landscape, however, as it gets larger than most people realize. Many are planted in residential landscapes and later removed because it has grown too large. Children may cut themselves if they accidentally fall into the plant because the edges of the leaves are sharply serrated. Plant six to eight feet apart in a mass planting.

Cultivars include: 'Argenteum', silvery plumes; 'GoldBand', yellow-edged leaves; 'Pumila', dwarf, four to six feet high; 'Rendatleri', pink plumes; 'Rosa Feder', pink plumes; 'Sunningdale Silver', silvery white plumes; and 'White', white, feathery plumes.

Propagation is by division.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS145, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.