Botanical Name: Cortaderia . Common Name : Pampas Grass
Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table: 7th Nov. – 13th Nov.
I always encourage people to bring their garden flowers into the house, the enjoyment of seeing home grown flowers should not just be limited to the few hours we are able to spend in the garden but also to the many hours we spend in the house. However, nobody can force us to display these flowers specifically in a vase on the dining room table, in fact, the flower I would like to bring into my house this week, ( if cut at ground level) would not fit on the table top unless you live in a Victorian mansion with 10 ft ceilings! Most people might not even class it as a flower just as a grass – but the plumes of the pampas grass are easy to grow and if you bring them into your home they will add a totally new architectural look to your decor.
Which species of Pampas Grass to buy for your garden
Cortaderia Selloana is the species that is usually found in garden centres, most varieties bear long silky plumes of silver white flowers. These are very common so if you would like to try something a bit different, try the variety ‘rentadleri’ a species of pampas grass sporting pink panicles.
You definitely need space to grow this grass, the long arching sword like leaves, are around 1m. long and the plumes rise to around 2m. with most varieties, leaving you a clump with a diameter of around one and a half metres. An option for the smaller garden is to plant the variety ‘pumila’ which is a smaller pampas grass with only 1.5m tall plumes, but it still requires a fair amount of space.
How to Cultivate Pampas Grass
Although the leaves of pampas grass are evergreen, they become untidy after the winter and that is why most gardeners prefer to remove the leaves annually during the autumn. It is possible to cut them away but a strong pair of secateurs or shears and a thick pair of gloves must be donned before handling the leaves to avoid being cut by the razor sharp leaves. A common practice is to burn the leaves during mid winter when they are reasonably dry. As long as this is not done too late into spring the fire will not harm next years growth, but I always wondered why gardeners enjoy doing this. They will tell you that it is beneficial for the plant – I suppose it is – like all wood ash which is a good potash boost for the soil encouraging a good supply of new flowers but other than that I think it is just an aftermath of Bonfire ~Night; the sheer enjoyment of seeing the whole bush catch fire and go up in flames! Do it if you like – but always have a hose ready and take care not to damage nearby plants.
Small potted plants are not expensive to buy or if you can get a spade between the leaves – divide an existing clump and replant. Be patient and don’t expect it to flower until the clump has reached a reasonable size. The flowers are produced at the end of summer and a warm summer ensures plenty of flower stalks.
How to cut Pampas Grass for indoor display
The flowers must be cut before winter sets in, otherwise during cold and windy weather, the stalks tend to break and the panicles grow untidy and loose. Once cut they will last for months in the house in a large vase. They are best displayed in a large glazed earthenware urn in the corner of a large room or place them at the end of the hallway to transform a dull hallway into a dignified antechamber!