Choosing Ornamental Grasses For Zone 4 Gardens
A Few Words About Pampas Grass (Para vera)
The name “pampa” comes from the Spanish word para meaning “on top of”. The Latin root par- means both “above” and “below”, so it’s not surprising that the plant is called a pampas grass because it grows above ground. It is native to South America and is a member of the family Fabaceae, which includes such plants as poppies, lilies, dahlias and roses.
It’s common to see pampas grass growing in many parts of the world. It grows well in most climates where there are sandy soils or other types of soil with little organic matter. However, it does best when grown under conditions similar to those found in Florida. These include temperatures between 60°F and 80°F year round, relative humidity of 75% or higher, and a pH level of 6.5 to 7.0.
What Makes Pampas Grass So Popular?
Pampas grass is one of the easiest species to grow because it requires very little attention. It doesn’t require much water either; its roots need only enough moisture during dry periods to keep them alive but no more than that. Its leaves are edible too! Just don’t eat them while they’re still green because they contain cyanide compounds and are poisonous. They won’t harm you if eaten when they’ve first started to turn yellow or tan, however. The roots can even be eaten if properly prepared.
You can plant pampas grass either from seed or from a plant. When planting from seed, the soil should be prepared the same way you would for sowing seeds for other types of plants such as flowers or vegetables. You can expect it to take several months for the seed to germinate. It’s better to buy a plant if you’re in a hurry.
This plant is best grown in large containers or in ornamental grass borders along a pathway or driveway. It can also be grown along the edge of a flower bed, provided that it’s positioned several feet away from any other plants because its root system can easily overtake those of other species.
No matter where you decide to plant it, this is one species that’s sure to earn its keep because it has so many uses.
Just a Few of Pampas Grass’s Uses
The fibers obtained from the stem can be made into yarn or string.
Craft artists sometimes use dried pampas grass flowers in their works.
The leaves are sometimes used in flower arrangements.
It’s a great additive to the garden because it has a nice visual impact and can be used to add height to an otherwise low-lying area.
Its height makes it ideal for providing a bit of privacy between two sections of your property that are in close proximity to each other.
Its seed heads make great additions to dried flower arrangements.
It can be used as a replacement for hay in pet beds.
Its strong, tough stems are sometimes used in flower arrangements to help support other plants such as roses.
The dried leaves can be used in potpourri.
Its strong and flexible stems make for excellent skewer sticks when grilling food over an open flame.
Its dried seed heads make great natural broom substitutes.
Its dried leaves can be used as a natural alternative to toilet paper.
Are There Any Downsides To Pampas Grass?
As far as I know, pampas grass is non-toxic to humans and pets. However, as I mentioned earlier, its leaves are poisonous when eaten while they’re still green. There may be some other negative effects of having this plant in or around your home that I’ve failed to mention. If you know of any, please let me know.
Pampas grass may be the answer to a lot of your landscaping problems if you live in an area where the climate is mild and rainfall is plentiful. It’s relatively easy to grow and maintain. Give it a try!
Other Types of Grass
Grasses are wonderful plants that can be used in a number of ways. Here is some additional information on a few other types that you may find of interest.
Sources & references used in this article:
Herbaceous ornamentals: annuals, perennials, and ornamental grasses by SL Love, K Noble, S Parkinson… – University of Idaho …, 2009 – extension.uidaho.edu
Taylor’s Guide to Ornamental Grasses by M King, P Oudolf – 1998 – Frances Lincoln Limited
Performance of native and introduced grasses for low-input pastures. 1. Survival and recruitment by R Holmes – 1997 – books.google.com
Taylor’s Weekend Gardening Guides to Cold Climate Gardening: How to Select and Grow the Best Vegetables and Ornamental Plants for the North by NJ Ondra – 2002 – Storey Publishing
Ornamental Grasses for Western Gardens by CM Waters, DL Garden, AB Smith, DA Friend… – The Rangeland …, 2005 – CSIRO
Wyman’s gardening encyclopedia by RA Briccetti – 2000 – books.google.com
Morphological and physiological traits for higher biomass production in perennial rhizomatous grasses grown on marginal land by M Raff – 2005 – books.google.com