Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Cortaderia Selloana

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Cortaderia selloana flower (08/09/2011, Cambridge)

Cortaderia selloana flower (08/09/2011, Cambridge)

Position: Full sun    

Flowering period: Summer

Soil: Well drained

Eventual Height: 3m

Eventual Spread: 1.5m

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7a – 10b

Family: Poaceae

Courtaderia selloana  is a tall, evergreen, perennial grass that grows in dense tussocks reaching a height of 3m. The evergreen leaves are long and slender with sharp edges and form the compacted tufts of the plant. They are 1cm in width, will grow to 2m length and are bluish green to silvery grey in colour. Its flowers appear in the form of dense white panicles on a long stem of up to 3m and are dioecious. The flowers are pollinated by the wind, have a whitish bloom colour and are produced in late summer/early autumn. These then produce seeds which ripen in October/November. They are oval in shape and have a crusty shell.

C. selloana,  commonly known as the Pampas Grass, is native to southern South America. The common name for this plant, Pampas Grass, is named after the Pampas region in South America from where this plant is native. In certain countries where this plant has been introduced it is considered invasive.

Cortaderia selloana was named by Alexander von Humboldt in  1818 . The name Cortaderia is derived from the Argentine name, ‘Cortadera’ meaning cutting. The name ‘Selloana’ is named after Friedrich Sellow the German Botanist and Naturalist who collected specimens in South America.

Cortaderia selloana (08/09/2011, Cambridge)

Cortaderia selloana (08/09/2011, Cambridge)

The landscape architect may find this grass useful as a large specimen plant because of its large plume and its architectural form. It also looks fantastic when planted en mass, particularly in a serpentine line. It also can be used as part of a Prairie style planting scheme. It will tolerate tolerate strong winds but will not tolerate maritime exposure. This grass is incredibly drought tolerant once established. Care should be taken when locating this plant due to it’s sharp leaf edges.

A number of varieties has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. These are  C. selloana Aureolineata’ (1993), C. selloana ‘Gold Band’ (1993), C. selloana ’Pumila’(1993) and C. selloana ‘Sunningdale Silver’ (1993)

This plant prefers moist sandy soils which are well drained. It prefers soils with a pH of acid to alkali. It will tolerate soils with a texture from sandy to clay although the soil must be well drained.

Maintenance: The crowns of young plants may be protected during the first winter to ensure their survival. The fading plumes may be removed at the end of the winter months when the new foliage starts to grow. Large plants may be divided in spring although protective clothing will be required in order to do this.

 


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