Pampas Grass

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Cortaderia selloana
 Pampas Grass
Habit: evergreen grass
Height:  ?m (20 ft)
Lifespan: perennial
Origin: Argentina
Exposure: full sunsn
Water: any amountsn
USDA Zones:  ?
Sunset Zones: 4-31, 33
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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Pampas-Grass (Cortaderia selloana, syn. Cortaderia argentea, Gynerium argenteum). A showy tall perennial subtropical grass grown for its whitish fluffy plumes of inflorescence; native in Argentina and southern Brazil.

The growing of pampas plumes for profit in California has been undertaken for over forty years.

Pampas-grass was introduced into the United States about 1848. In the northern states it is frequently planted on the lawn in summer, and upon the approach of cold weather transferred in a tub to a cellar for winter protection. In California, a hill will sometimes attain a height of 20 feet, a diameter as great, and a weight of 2,000 pounds. Such plants would be very inconvenient for our northern friends to handle in the cellar.

Plants are easily produced from seed, but as the sex and variety are very uncertain, stock is usually increased by dividing the female plants, the plumes of which are much more beautiful than those of the male. The growing of pampas-grass in North America on a commercial scale dates from 1874, when the difference in sex was discovered. In 1872 the writer sowed seed which in two years gave several hundred plume-bearing plants. Even then the variations in color and fineness were very marked. In 1874, it was found that by pulling the immature plumes from the sheaths and exposing them to the hot sun, the male plumes would hang heavily like oats, while the female plumes would become fluffy, and light and airy.

Pampas-grass should be put on the best valley land, and set 10 by 16 feet apart. Before planting, the ground should be deeply plowed and put in first-class condition. In selecting stock, divide only female plants that produce the finest white plumes. Young hills produce the best plants. From old hills the best plants are obtained around the outside, those in the center of the stool being mostly worthless unless planted in large clumps.

Some plumes will be produced the first year after planting. They will not be first-class, but are worth saving. The second year, if well grown, they should produce 80 to 150 plumes to the hill. Not all plantations will yield this much. The third and fourth years there will not be much change in the yield. As a plant gets older the plumes are larger but the yield is less.

After 8 to 10 years a quantity of dead matter will have accumulated, and the hills should be trimmed or burned.

Careful all-round cultivation is necessary to produce good plumes. CH

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Cortaderia argentea, Stapf (Gynerium argenteum, Nees). PamPas-grass. Culms numerous, in large thick tussocks, 3-6 ft. high, excluding the panicle: lvs. mostly basal, the upper sheaths gradually elongated; blades firm, long and slender, very scabrous on the margins, ⅛-¼ in. wide, tapering to a slender point: panicle large, compact, 1-3 ft., silvery white or in cult, varieties tinged with purple, dioecious; spikelets 2-3-fld., the pistillate silky with long hairs, the staminate naked; glumes white and papery, long and slender; lemmas bearing a long slender awn. A.G. 14:323. G. 1:412. G.C. III. 40:295; 43:195. Gn. 62, p. 346; 66. p. 375. G.W. 3:415. Gn.W. 5:85; 23:20. J.H. III. 35:483; 49:27. R.H. 1862, p. 150. V. 3:369, 391. S. Brazil and Argentina. C. Lambleyi foliis variegatis, Hort., G.C. III. 25:335, appears to be a form of C. argentea.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.


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There are several cultivars available, includingwp:

  • 'Albolineata' — a small cultivar which grows to only 2 m (6.6 ft) in height. The leaves are variegated, with yellow edges.
  • 'Sunningdale Silver' — grows to a height of 4 m (13.1 ft) and has particularly dense flowering plumes. This variety has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.


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