8 Awesome Tips About Pampas Grass From Unlikely Sources

There are a limited number of ornamental plants which are so spectacular within their appearance, they can really transform a garden from being ordinary to being special. One of these brilliant is the Pampas grass, Cortaderia sellowiana, from Argentina. Unfortunately it is also highly problematical to maintain, and even dangerous to those who use the garden. That is a pity, because as a massive ornamental grass, it is pampas grass artificial possibly unmatched in its capacity to supply drama and a feeling of movement in the garden.

The danger comes from the leaves of the Pampas grass. They are serrated across the edge, making them as sharp as a carpenter's saw. In fact the plant's botanical name, Cortaderia, originates from the Spanish word cortar, "to cut". For this reason Pampas grass shouldn't be planted where children will probably run about and play, nor near paths and entrance ways. Considering that it can cover some 2 meters in width, it can only be looked at as an option in the garden, when granted a lot of space.

Another serious problem connected with Cortaderia is its potential to spread being an uncontrollable weed, so much in order that some plant nurseries in america have stopped propagating the species altogether. The danger only arises though when male and female plants should be found in each others proximity. In Israel, where I come from, we don't have this issue, because the plants are propagated vegetatively, from female specimens only.

Design considerations

The Pampas grass, as well as its massive plumes, can reach a height of 3-5 meters, spreading outwards from its base to form a large clump some 1-2 meters wide. The blooms, specially the female ones, are particularly beautiful. Clearly, the role of the plant is that of a focal point. In this regard, general design knowledge and good taste come into play. As the dominant element in a composition, it should not have to compete for attention with other eye catching elements like flower beds, sculptural plants, or species with unusually colored foliage.

As a grass, it obviously associates well with other ornamental grass-like plants. Indeed a complete composition could be built around the Pampas because the centerpiece, supported by grasses that reach about a meter in height like types of Miscanthus and Pennisetum setaceum, while a carpet is made from low growing plants of similar form and habit, such as Carex, Festuca, Liriope, and Ophiopogon japonicum.

Cortaderia is highly suitable for gardening in a dry climate where water reaches a premium. It can get by pretty much with modest additions during the dry months, requiring perhaps some 300mm on the year. Planted in a big bed of ornamental pebbles, it can create a stunning center point, while the total water consumption of the bed as a whole, could actually be less than 200mm each year. (200 liters per meter square)

Care and maintenance

The tendency of the Pampas grass to dry out at its base, coupled with the down sides gardeners have in cutting out dead elements of the plant, is another factor behind the reluctance to use the plant. However, this is another stumbling block which can be handled relative ease. The clump should simply be cut down to the ground every 2-3 years, by using a hedge trimmer, or mechanical strimmer. (Weed whacker) The work is best carried out towards the end of the winter.

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