Purple pampas grass is a tall, graceful tufted perennial that can add some dramatic form and even privacy to the garden landscape. Basal leaves are bright green, feathery, and sharply serrated. Despite its name, the plumes are not exactly purple. Grown for its eye-catching inflorescences, the panicles start out pink or purplish when new, gradually turning cream or white. They look lovely in the landscape, as well as added to flower bouquets.
It's only recommended to grow this on your property if you have plenty of space for it to spread. Planting it in a garden bed means it will eventually overtake the entire bed, crowding out other plants and creating hard-to-remove root systems. However, purple pampas grass is not very cold hardy (it may survive to Zone 6 with winter protection), so it's possible to grow it as an annual in colder zones without worrying about it being overly invasive.
|Common Name||Purple pampas grass, Andean pampas grass|
|Botanical Name||Cortaderia jubata|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous, perennial|
|Mature Size||5-20 ft. tall, 4-6 ft. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Soil Type||Clay, sandy, moist, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral, alkaline|
|Flower Color||Pink, purple, white|
|Hardiness Zones||7-11 (USDA)|
|Native Areas||South America|
Purple Pampas Care
This plant can look very imposing with its tall leaves and fluffy tops that wave in the breeze. If you have a large area, planting purple pampas grass as a sort of divider or privacy hedge may be a good use for it.
It can be easily mowed around so it makes a good focal point in a large lawn. Cut back the grassy clump to ground level in late fall to make way for new spring growth or leave it for winter interest if desired. In this case, it would be cut back in early spring before new growth forms.
Purple pampas grass is a very aggressive plant and is considered a problematic invasive species in many areas. It can grow in many different habitats and is particularly threatening to coastal dunes where it can eradicate endangered plant species. A small invasive species is one thing, but a 20-foot-tall clump of invasive grass is quite another.
While it prefers full sun, purple pampas grass can do just as well with partial shade.
Purple pampas grass isn't very fussy about soil. It prefers a well-drained variety but will tolerate clay and rocky soils.
Purple pampas grass prefers a decent amount of moisture but can be drought-tolerant. Tolerant of salt, too, it often flourishes in coastal areas and by roadsides, where many other salt-sensitive grasses can't survive.
Temperature and Humidity
This plant thrives in temperatures around 75 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Though it can handle a wide humidity range, it prefers humidity in the higher range.
Purple pampas grass succeeds without any help from fertilizer or soil amendments.
To prune the grass, simply cut it back to the ground. Since it will likely take up a great deal of space, using a mower to cut it back is fine. For smaller clumps, sharp pruning shears will do the trick. Cut it back in fall or early spring.
Propagating Purple Pampas Grass
If you live in a zone where this plant is hardy (warmer than Zone 6), be aware it not only spreads as the root system gets larger but also propagates by seed. Each plant produces millions of seeds per year, dispersing by wind, water, or transport. It can be highly invasive, and, once established, this plant can be difficult to eradicate as the root system is very thick and tough.
How to Grow Purple Pampas Grass From Seed
Pampas grass readily disperses seed on its own, so it doesn't need any help in establishing or spreading throughout the backyard or garden. If you want to grow this plant in colder climates as an annual, you'll have more time to enjoy its beauty if planted as a potted nursery specimen.
This plant does just fine over the winter months in its usual growing zones. In zones where it is not cold hardy, expect to see dieback of the plant. To help it survive, a thick layer of mulch is ideal.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Purple pampas grass seems to be mostly immune to pests or diseases. This resistance to predators that could slow growth, along with tolerance of intense sunlight, drought and frost, enables the plant to establish itself in many habitat types where it could become invasive.
Common Problems with Purple Pampas Grass
This plant has other considerations beyond its invasive growing tendencies. The grass has sharp edges that can make cutting it or moving it somewhat dangerous. In some cases, the "fluff" that blows from pampas grass at the end of the growing season can cause respiratory distress, especially in densely populated areas. This is an important consideration when deciding whether to plant purple pampas grass in urban settings.
Is there an alternative to purple pampas grass?
Can purple pampas grass grow indoors?
This plant grows quickly and spreads widely. Besides that, the leaves are sharp, and the seeds are plentiful, dusting everything in sight. Given this, it's not advisable to grow purple pampas indoors.
How long does purple pampas grass live?
This grass can live for 10-15 years. However, because it self-seeds so readily, don't expect to notice when the first bunch of your grass dies back, as offspring will quickly take its place.
Pampas Grass. University of Georgia Extension.
Uruguayan pampas grass. University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
Almeida, Mónica Roldão et al. Public perceptions about the invasive plant pampas grass, Cortaderia selloana. Biological Invasions, 2022. doi:10.21203/rs.3.rs-1343268/v1