Common name/s ?

Pampas grass, tussock grass and Pappa G.

Skill rating



South America.

Type of plant ?

Evergreen, perennial grass.

Hardiness zone ?

RHS zone


EGF zone


USDA zone


Eventual size

To 2.5m height and 1.5m spread.

Growth rate ?

Slow, will take 5 to 10 years to reach its full height.

Shape it grows into

Forms clumps of fountain-like foliage from which taller flower stems grow.

Season/s of interest

Year round foliage with the addtional interest of flower plumes in late summer.

Where to grow it

Happiest in full sun.
Prefers well drained to moist soil.

Will tolerate all soil types and pH. Happy in sheltered or exposed sites, including coastal areas.

Cortaderia selloana


Forms clumps of strap-shaped, mid green leaves with very sharp edges, curved outwards to create a fountain effect. In late summer tall, erect plumes of silvery flower panicles appear. This pampas grass is dioecious and the female plants have the best flower display, so try to purchase females where possible.

What to use it for

Excellent as an architectural feature of the garden or at the back of a ‘hot’ border. Can also be used to form a hedge, the sharp leaves providing good security for boundaries. The plumes are useful for flower arranging. Be careful not to plant it too close to paths or other walkways where people or pets could be cut by the sharp foliage.

How to look after it

Any work carried out with pampas grass should be done with full protective clothing on, including stout gloves, long sleeves and protective goggles, because the leaves are razor sharp.

Pampas grass is pretty low maintenance, just requiring pruning in winter (see below).

How to prune it

Prune out any flowered stems and dead/diseased/damaged foliage from the base in January or February. Take care when pruning due to the sharp nature of the leaves.

How to propagate it

Divide plants in spring, taking appropriate safety precautions due to the sharp leaves. Cut into smaller pieces, pot up the new plants and grow on at 15.5°C.

Seeds can be sown in spring at a minimum of 15°C. This pampas grass is dioecious, so you will need a male and a female plant in close proximity to obtain viable seed.

Common problems

Generally speaking pampas grass remains free of pests and diseases. Any health problems may be due to environmental conditions, such as the soil being too wet.

Other useful information

The common name ‘pampas grass’ relates to the Pampas lowland plains of South America, where this grass originates. The botanical genus name Cortaderia derives from the Spanish-American word for a cutting instrument. The species name ’selloana’ was given by Alexander von Humboldt in 1818, naming it after German botanist and naturalist Friedrich Sellow (1789-1831) who spent much time exploring South American flora.

A self-seeding pampas grass can become a weed problem in the garden as it produces up to 1 million seeds in its lifetime. Removing pampas grass can be tricky. Burning is one option, but it doesn’t always kill the plant to the root. The best bet is to remove the majority of the foliage and treat the remaining leaves with a herbicide containing glyphosate. Repeat treatments may be required to stop any re-growth.