Grass is native to Argentina.

Every year about this time I remind myself that I want to plant some Pampas grass in the east open area that is back of the Kickapoo and Mall Drive corner. When spring comes and it is time to plant it, I tend to forget about it until I see it in full bloom in the fall. I have placed a reminder in the back of my 2013 calendar, so look for it blooming there in 2014.

Pampas grass is a native of Argentina. Its common botanical name is Cortaderia selloana. This is the grass that grows to as tall as 20 ft. Sometimes its plumes contain seeds that tend to sprout and become invasive. Its cousin Cortaderia selloana jubata produces seeds that are very prolific and invasive. You want to avoid it.

The more desirable Pampas grass is Cortaderia Sellonana Pumila. There are two reasons. First, its seeds are sterile, so gardeners don’t have to worry about a lot of invasive plants. Second, it is not as tall. With plumes in bloom its height is about 4 feet to 6 feet.

Pampas Grass needs well drained soil that is not too rich. Overly rich soil will produce more foliage and not as many plumes. Once the plant is established it is very drought tolerant. The plumes may be removed when they are no longer showy. Horticulturists recommend that the foliage be cut back to about six inches in the winter. This can be done with a hedge trimmer or some other heavy duty cutting implement. Long sleeves and a jacket with padded sleeves are recommended to avoid being injured by the pointed leaves.

Usually plants installed in the spring will bloom in their first fall, but this doesn’t happen every time. Let’s hope that the plants you and I plant will bloom their first year.