Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Please consider this a Public Service Announcement.
(Cue sappy TV PSA keyboard music)

It could happen to you; it could happen to someone in your family - maybe it already has.
Every year, thousands of people are betrayed. They put on a grim smile for the sake of their loved ones; they try to look happy, but the betrayal leaves them empty inside...
They bought the wrong grass.
Walking through their neighborhood one evening, they saw a beautiful clump of Miscanthus sinensis rustling gently in the breeze. Not knowing what it was called, they visited their local garden center and requested the "tall, pretty grass with feathery flower heads", trusting an employee to fill in the blanks, pat them on the back and send them on their way with the perfect plant. Instead, they got...

Pampas Grass.

For these people, it is already too late; there is no known cure for Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana). Symptoms of this grass include an increasingly ratty, congested crown, unwanted reseeding, enormous size that will dwarf any neighboring plants, and hellaciously sharp leaf margins that will draw blood from casual passers-by (Miscanthus is no kitten itelf, but it will seem like a cuddly ball of fur next to the scrap-metal jaws of Cortaderia).
If someone you know has Pampas Grass, the best thing you can be is a supportive, understanding friend. Tell them their grass looks nice, even if it doesn't; comment on its lovely plumes. Do not mention or expose them to Miscanthus, as this will result in severe scowling and fits of colorful language; do not, under any circumstances, approach their Pampas Grass itself without full-body protection.
The only way to prevent Pampas Grass is through education. Know your grasses, by name if possible. If you reach to touch a grass at a nursery and an employee lunges to stop you for fear of a wrongful injury lawsuit, do not purchase the grass. If a nursery tries to sell you a plant you suspect to be Pampas Grass without thourough disclaimer, report them to your better business bureau immediately.

It's your garden, take charge of it. Too many people have been betrayed. Too many people suffer needlessly. Together, we can put an end to unwanted Pampas Grass.


  1. I can't believe the nurseries even sell this stuff anymore. I believe the seed heads can be blown something like 10 or 20 miles, so the potential for invasiveness is incredible.

  2. I'm with Susan - shocked that it can even be found. The sterile versions are OK, I guess - I think there's a variegated sterile version - but heck, why would anyone want a plant that cuts you for looking at it wrong?

    I'm turning a blind eye to Miscanthus' tendencies in this direction. LOL.