Past Articles Library | Growing Dwarf Pampas Grass
Dwarf pampas grass, or Cortaderia selloana, is a perennial grass native to Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. It grows four to six feet high and can be as wide as it is high. It is generally more cold hardy than its larger relative, and will grow in zones six or seven through ten. It is generally planted for the showy white plumes of flowers that top its stalks. Male plants have smaller plumes of flowers than female plants do. There is no way to tell is male or female until it blooms.
Dwarf pampas grass is propagated from dividing the roots dug up from clumps of grass. If you want to be sure you get the showier female plants, divide a female plant and take some of its roots.
Dwarf pampas grass is considered invasive in some areas. It is also drought resistant, heat tolerant, and provides a stunning focal point to a flower bed. It will have to be dug up and divided every three to five years to maintain its health and control its spread. It does have razor sharp leaves that can cut you to ribbons, so you should wear long pants, long sleeves, and gloves when working with it.
To plant dwarf pampas grass, you must first prepare the bed. Till the bed to a depth of twelve to fifteen inches. Work in three inches of compost.
Dig a hole slightly bigger than the root ball of the dwarf pampas grass. Carefully remove it from the pot and set it in the hole. Firm dirt around it and water it in.
For the first year of the dwarf pampas grass’ life, water it an inch of water once a week. Once the grass is established, it only needs to be watered during periods of drought.
Mulch with three inches of mulch around the dwarf pampas grass. This will help keep the plant moist in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Fertilize dwarf pampas grass every spring, using a slow release granular form of fertilizer. Mix the fertilizer in the dirt around the dwarf pampas grass and then water it in.
Prune dwarf pampas grass in late fall or early spring by cutting it to six to eight inches in height. Tie a string around the grass at the height of three feet, then cut the grass with heavy hedge clippers. After clipping the grass, discard or compost the bundle of grass.
When it becomes time to divide the dwarf pampas grass, do so in the early spring. Dig it up and cut the roots into sections, each with four to five shoots a piece and several healthy roots. Replant the pieces in the bed around four feet apart. Dispose of the center piece, which will be brown and ugly.
Watch for aphids or mites, which often infest the grass in large numbers. If you find any, use an insecticidal soap to get rid of them. Dwarf pampas grass is not prone to any diseases.