Cortaderia

Cortaderia selloana 'White'

Impressive perennial grasses with distinctive tall silky plumes and narrow arching green leaves. One of the most popular and impressive ornamental grasses, providing all-year-round interest.

Family: Poaceae or Gramineae
Botanical Name: Cortaderia (kor-ta-de-ree-a)
Common Names: Pampas grass, tussock grass

Foliage: Dense clumps of evergreen, slender arching, green leaves.

Flowers: Showy, plume-like flowers on tall stout stems.

Flowering Period: Summer to early autumn.

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (Chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun. Can be planted in any aspect.

Habit: Tufted, clump forming.

Type: Perennial.

Origin: South America and New Zealand.

Hardiness: Hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Cortaderia

Plant in mid spring in any well-drained fertile soil, in a reasonably sheltered sunny site. Shelter from cold winds. Easy to grow. Drought resistant once established.

Creates an impressive focal point in a border, island bed, gravel garden or open space.

Note: The sharp-edged leaves can cause cuts so wear gloves and protective clothing when handling.

The flowers can be dried for flower arrangements.

Taking Care of Cortaderia

Water well until established.

Pruning Cortaderia

Cut down flower stalks and dead leaves in early spring. Wear gloves and protective clothing when handling, as the leaves are very sharp.

Pests and Diseases

Generally trouble free

Propagating Cortaderia

Divide established clumps in the spring. Planting distance 5-6ft (1.5-1.8m).

Alternatively, sow seeds under glass in spring.

Popular Varieties of Cortaderia

Cortaderia richardii (New Zealand pampas, toe toe) forms dense clumps with long slender, pointed leaves and arching shaggy plumes of creamy white feathery spikelets in late summer. Height 6-10ft (2-3m), spread 5-6ft (1.5-2m).

Cortaderia selloana forms a dense clump of greyish-green, narrow arching leaves, with tall silvery-white flower plumes in late summer and early autumn. Height to 9ft (2.7m). For sale at Thompson & Morgan. Good cultivars include:

  • 'Gold Band' has narrowly striped leaves in gold and green. Height to 5ft (1.5m).
  • 'Gold Minipampas' is a dwarf variety with striking variegated foliage. Height and spread 39in (100cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
  • 'Minipampas' is more compact than other varieties producing a low tussock of stiff, flat, narrowly linear green leaves with white flowers, from August to October. Height and spread 39in (100cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.
  • 'Pumila' is a compact species with creamy white flowers. Height to 4ft (1.2m). For sale at Van Meuwen.
  • 'Rendatleri' bears tall pink-tinted plumes.
  • 'Silver Fountain' has white-striped variegated leaves.
  • 'Sunningdale Silver' a popular variety with long-lasting creamy plumes. Height to 10ft (3m).

Cortaderia jubata (purple pampas grass) similar to the common form C. selloana, but grows much taller, up to 22ft (7m). The young flower plumes are deep violet, maturing to pinkish or cream-white. C. jubata is a non-native invasive species that is currently banned from sale or propagation in the UK and EU.