The Q&A Archives: Zone 7 Pampas Grass Care In Zone 6

Question: Since our first visit to Albuquerque with our hot air balloon (we have been to many fiestas since!), we fell in love with the Pampas Grass variety Cortaderia selloana. It is magnificent, and of course, we wanted to get some of the plants to put on our farm. After several years of frustration (and, sad to say, ignorance on the part of some local so-called Garden Centers), we could not find a single plant of this variety. When we returned to Abq this year, we happened to drive by a garden center that had POTS AND POTS of it. We purchased a container, and lovingly brought it home in our balloon basket. We just planted it an hour or so ago, and it seems very happy (we have other varieties of Pampas grass all over our acreage). When we read the informative tag, we noticed it is a Zone 7 to 11. We are at the top of Zone 6, however we have many plants that are not supposed to grow successfully here,(like Southern Magnolia trees)that thrive because of the care we give them. Is there anything special we can do to help our new grass along? We put some topsoil and horse manure (donated by my Arabians!)and a nice fertilizer in the base. It is in a great spot, with full sun. Compared to what they used to be, our winters are not near as bad, and, in fact, we fear ice storms the most, though they are fortunately infrequent. We would appreciate your advice and look forward to many years of enjoyment of our new grass!

Answer: Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do to protect this plant in colder areas with any kind of certainty of success. You could try mulching heavily around the perimeter (not over top of the crown). Some gardeners report success by bending and tieing the top grassy foliage over top of the crown in such a way that it will shed water and snow. You could compare this to a haystack in the way it should work. This would limit moisture collecting and freezing in the crown area and would also provide a certain amount of insulation for it. Alternatively, since it grows so well, you could consider replacing it each year and growing it as an annual. Good luck with your pampas grass!

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