Pampas grass

The pampas grass is actually called “American pampas grass”, which is also imprecise because this beautiful grass is native to South America. It belongs to the sweet grasses and thus to an obviously more than assertive plant family, the sweet grasses have developed and spread all over the world and in all climatic zones.

The grasses are part of the group of the oldest useful plants, so they have been vital for us humans for a very long time, because cereals, including wheat, maize and rice, which are still the basis of nutrition over large parts of the world, belong to the grasses form. The grasses are useful not only for humans, but also as fodder all over the world. That is why these grasses are a familiar image for us humans, whether they grow in a meadow or a pasture or shape the image of the landscape in a steppe or a savannah.

Familiar plants are always perceived as pleasant by people, which is why we have lawn in our garden. But it really doesn’t have to stop with lawns, the grasses have so much more to offer, for example the pampas grass, which is available in several heights and has an extremely decorative effect with its delicate fan-shaped flowers.

Location and care requirements of the pampas grass

What was able to develop in the world in such a way that it became indispensable for many living beings must certainly not be too squeamish in its claims. It is the same with our pampas grass, which incidentally bears the botanical name Cortaderia selloana. However, in our garden it doesn’t exactly grow like it does in its home country, it is (unfortunately) not as warm here as in Brazil, Uruguay or Chile. But the pampas grass got its name for a reason, and this reason only confirms the assertiveness of the grasses: It also grows in the Argentine pampas, where it meets fertile sand and alluvial soil, but also a temperate climate that in the west has a continental character with hot summers and rather cold and dry winters.

And so it is no longer so astonishing that this ornamental grass grows well here if you give it a warm location with full sun. The pampas grass also needs a fairly nutritious soil, and a fairly loose soil, both of which you can achieve by mixing in compost at the planned location. This soil should be kept fairly evenly moist, the grass can tolerate a little drought, but too dry a location can prevent pampas grass from blooming.

If you have mixed in a good amount of compost at the site, the pampas grass has all the nutrients for a start. When these are used up, organic fertilizer is happy to receive it, you can also spend it on suspicion – overfertilization is not possible here so quickly because this fertilizer is only digested in the soil. You can also use a synthetic ornamental grass fertilizer from specialist retailers, but then you would have to observe more closely when the plant needs a supply of nutrients and dose this fertilizer precisely, synthetic fertilizer has a direct and immediate effect and can therefore be overdosed quickly.

The decorative pampas grass is a fairly perennial that can decorate your garden for a few years if the location suits it. The feathery flowers unfold from August and can keep their full splendor until November.

Plant pampas grass in the garden

So that your pampas grass does not get a cold shock in the event of late frosts, you should definitely wait until after the ice saints, i.e. until mid-May, before planting it in the garden bed. Then dig a large planting hole, mix in the compost, put in the root ball of the pampas grass and fill up with the soil-compost mixture. Now water it well, and that’s it – if the location is sunny enough and the soil is loose and nutrient-rich enough, the ornamental grass will grow quickly and form strong clumps.

Incidentally, in botany these clumps are a habit that is typical of many grasses. In an eyrie, the shoots of the plant are newly formed close to each other at the base, almost always standing upright and growing upwards. Clump-forming grasses usually do not develop runners, especially not the root runners, the rhizomes, which are so feared in some grasses. That is why you do not have to give the ornamental grass a root barrier when planting it; it voluntarily remains in the place it was originally intended for.

Decorative varieties of pampas grass

The “normal” pampas grass has lush green leaves that grow close together and, depending on the variety and location, can reach a height of around 2 meters. The attractive flower clusters are cream-colored in normal pampas grass. There are varieties that stay smaller and varieties that draw attention to themselves with other colors, e.g. B. the silver pampas grass with gray-green leaves and elegant silvery shimmering fronds that look very filigree.

These varieties are available in Central Europe:

  • Cortaderia selloana “Andes Silver” becomes quite tall and forms cream-colored fronds in lighter and darker tones.
  • Cortaderia selloana “Patagonia” has medium size, soft light green leaves and light to reddish shimmering fronds.
  • Cortaderia selloana “Pumila” grows in a rather compact form that is no more than a meter high and flowers in silvery-white, closely spaced fronds.
  • Cortaderia selloana “Sunningdale Silver” also flowers white with a little silver sheen, the fronds are particularly evenly shaped and quite large, the ornamental grass can grow up to 2.5 meters high.
  • Particularly noticeable are new cultivars that produce pink flowers and usually reach quite a height of over 2 meters, the Cortaderia selloana “Rosea” and “Rendatleri”.

Pampas grass – a wonderful garden decoration

Pampas grass - a wonderful garden decoration

The American pampas grass is an eye-catcher at any height, and it can be used as an eye-catcher in the garden where it otherwise gets a bit monotonous at the end of the summer season. The pampas grass does not develop its flowers until very late in the gardening season, when other flowers have long since passed their peak, from autumn to winter such places can then benefit from the delicate fronds. The pampas grass can also be used as a solitary plant in the garden, as an eye-catcher or in places where a little privacy is desired.

The lush grass clumps that the pampas grass forms can also be combined perfectly with other plants. There are some recommendations regarding the most beautiful neighbors for the pampas grass: In any case, a pampas grass will fit harmoniously into a group of wild perennials, in which you can then enjoy the most varied of flower colors one after the other. Pampas grass and mullein make a very distinctive combination, here you can stay tone on tone or set strong contrasts. You can also combine the pampas grass very well with other grasses, e.g. B. with Chinese reeds, or you put groups of pampas grass, perhaps different varieties, next to each other.

Hibernate pampas grass

If you are preparing your garden for winter in autumn, leave the pampas grass, it is in the middle of full bloom. If the fronds are slowly wilting, you should loosely tie the grass together with raffia; this will protect the ornamental grass from too much moisture in the heart of the plant. In order for the ornamental grass to survive the winter well, it is given a little protection; it can be piled up with leaves, straw or brushwood. If you live in one of the mild areas of Germany, the pampas grass should come through the winter without protection.

If the tuft of feathers is tied together in autumn, you can also use it to create extravagant winter decorations for your garden: the fronds look very beautiful as a dense bush, but covered with frost or snow they just look like a fairy tale. By tying them together, they also create a kind of cave in the lower area, which many small animals like to adopt as winter quarters. This then warms the roots again, so the ornamental grass will certainly survive the winter well.

Cutting pampas grass – please be careful!

The pampas grass is allowed to keep its full head over the winter, so that a new splendor can develop, it is pruned in the spring. But only as much as is absolutely necessary, in cold areas some stalks will have turned brown, they will first be cut away. Then you can carefully remove all the older leaves at the outer edges that no longer look so nice, all removed stalks are cut off as close to the ground as possible, and that’s it with the pruning.

The request for caution in the heading goes in two directions: First of all, you should be absolutely careful when handling the beautiful grass and put on sturdy work gloves, the stalks have very sharp edges, which you can cut yourself badly. In addition, you should be very careful not to damage the young shoots in the heart of the pampas grass, this is where the new shoots of the grass develop.

Diseases and pests in pampas grass

Diseases and pests in pampas grass

Many diseases or pests are actually not to be feared with pampas grass. If it should come to life around the ornamental grass in summer, mostly only insects have nested, which are more beneficial than pests for the garden and do not damage the ornamental grass.

If the grass is not tied up, it can get very humid inside in winter. Then rot could develop, and if the grass does not dry quickly at higher temperatures in spring, there is even a risk of fungal attack.

Propagate, grow from seeds and buy pampas grass

The pampas grass in the garden center is usually not cheap, you will have to spend around 20 euros on average. So it is worth growing the pampas grass yourself from seeds, which is also not very difficult if you pay attention to the right temperature:

The seeds can be sown in normal soil, preferably at the later location or in the tub in which the ornamental grass is to decorate the terrace. The sowing can be done at temperatures around 20 degrees, in the garden only if it stays warm in the summer even at night. The seeds should be kept evenly moist, and compost or organic fertilizer is only added to the well-developed pampas grass.

When your pampas grass has grown large (and perhaps even threatens to become too big or wide), you can multiply it by dividing the rootstock and thereby keep it within its limits. This should be done in autumn, when the flower has developed completely, you simply prick off part of the rhizome with a sharp spade and plant it in the desired location. By the next shoot in spring, the old and the freshly planted rhizome will have recovered and are ready for the new shoot.

A variety of the attractive pampas grass can be found in every well-stocked specialist nursery today. B. at Gärtner Pötschke GmbH from 41564 Kaarst at If you want to grow your ornamental grass yourself from seeds, you can use these e.g. B. in the flower seed shop of Ole Möhlmann from 26382 Wilhelmshaven,

Propagate, grow from seeds and buy pampas grass

The pampas grass is one of the ornamental grasses that can set completely new accents in your garden, you will certainly not run out of design ideas and combination options for the beautiful grass so quickly. Incidentally, this ornamental grass has an added value: You can cut off some of the attractive fronds when they are in full bloom and bring them into your home, the distinctive flower panicles look wonderful in every floristic work of art, but they also decorate every floor vase with just a few copies, and that a long time. If you’ve got the “desire for more grass”: The sweet grasses still have a few variants to offer, with around 650 genera, which fan out into around 10,000 species, they belong to the largest families of flowering plants.

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