By Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
It’s a new year! Every week during 2021 we are going to feature one (or two) of the plants on Permian Basin Master Gardener’s Plant List. This list has been put together specifically for the West Texas area. We will give pros and cons, as well as planting tips, and warnings. So here we go!
This is one of my favorite plants. Pampas grass is a great plant for an area that needs a large accent plant. It thrives with very little water and lots of sun. This grass grows large white plooms of feathery shoots.
First a warning. In other areas of the country this plant has been considered invasive. Probably because we have so little rain, that has not been the case here. However, a single plant in a small pot can grow as wide as 4’ and 8’ tall. I have two Pampas grasses and both are planted in an open area away from any structures.
It is best grown in full sun in the lawn or a flowerbed and not in a container. It can be grown as hedge but don’t plant against a driveway where it can block lines of sight.
Plant in well-drained soil in a hole that is three times as wide and three times as deep and the root system of the new plant. Place the plant in the center of the hole and backfill. Be gentle and pat down the soil around the plant. Water well.
This is a tough plant and can adapt to its location. During the first year water once every two weeks, more during drought. Once the plant is established you will only need to water three or four times a year.
In late winter, cut the plant down to about 15”. I (okay, my husband) uses an electric hedge trimmer for this task. Be careful, the leaves can be sharp on the edges when you pick them up. The grass grows in a clump and will begin to sprout once the weather warms up. It can be a task if you decide to remove it in future years. It has a large root system and will probably require a grubbing hoe.
The long plumes make wonderful additions to flower arrangements or alone in a vase.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.