Pampas Grass

Cortaderia selloana

  • Best grown in dry to medium moisture in full sun
  • Tolerates light shade and drought once established
  • Cut foliage back to the ground in late winter
  • Clumps may be divided in late winter to early spring.

Tall, tough and beautiful: you’d think pampas grass has all the qualities you’d want in a perennial ornamental grass. Cortaderia selloana can be both functional and lovely. The plants, which grow 6 to 10 feet high and spread six feet wide, make useful privacy screens, wind breaks and camouflage for unwanted views. Because pampas grass has stiff stems and sharp-edged leaves, it also can also serve as a living hedge or fence.

But pampas grass is incredibly prolific when it comes to seed production; a single plant can bear up to a million seeds over its lifetime. The self-sowing seeds can sprout in almost any kind of soil, too. And although pampas grass dies back in the winter, it rebounds once warm weather returns.
Its roots also grow deep into the ground, allowing pampas grass to survive droughts and making it hard for gardeners to eliminate. Some resort to chopping it down with machetes or chainsaws, or even burning the plants, although they usually regrow in a few weeks. Spraying with an herbicide will work, but you often need to make multiple applications.

Avoid growing pampas grass around pets or children who can brush against it. You’ll need to wear protective clothing and thick gloves to avoid being cut on its razor-like edges. Cuts happen easily, and they may become inflamed or infected.