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Thanks to its magnificent fronds and long, narrow leaves, pampas grass is one of the most popular ornamental grasses and can be cultivated both in the garden and in the bucket. It harmonises with a wide variety of plants and garden styles, as a background plant or as a structure giver in certain areas of the garden. While dwarf varieties measure just under one meter, other varieties reach heights of growth of up to three meters. And with the right packaging, they also get through the winter well.
Hibernation in the pot
Compared to the protection of pampas grasses in the garden, overwintering in pots or tubs is much more difficult. The soil in the pot can freeze through relatively quickly without protection, which would result in the death of the plant. Good winter protection is all the more important for the root area, but also for the above-ground parts of the plant.
In its natural environment, this ornamental grass thrives in hot and dry regions. We are not used to moisture and should therefore be protected from it as best we can, especially in winter. In order to improve its winter hardiness, you should make sure you have a sufficiently large planter when planting, because the roots need a lot of space to spread and to develop dense and strong flower panicles and foliage. The bigger it is the better.
- To protect the root area, place the bucket in a sheltered spot
- ideally in front of a warm house wall under an eaves
- place them on an insulating pad to protect them from cold feet
- this can be an insulating styrofoam plate, wooden slats or something similar
- wrap the bucket with bubble wrap, fleece, thick reed or coconut mats
- then cover the root area with straw or brushwood
This means that the roots are well protected from the cold and, above all, from the wet, and sufficient ventilation is also guaranteed. This type of protective measure applies to potted plants in the garden as well as specimens that overwinter on the terrace or balcony. The cover can be removed around March/April, when no more severe frosts are to be expected.
Particular attention is paid to protecting the stalks and keeping their insides dry. You should never cut them back in autumn, even if some stalks are already completely withered. A pruning at this time would have fatal consequences, moisture could penetrate unhindered into the hollow stalks. This in turn would lead to rot and cause the pampas grass to die off. Therefore, the above-ground parts must also be prepared for wintering.
- simply tie the straws together loosely
- ideally in dry weather, and tying up when the grasses are dry
- If possible, do not tie wet straws together
- Moisture could then not escape
- the stalks inside do not dry out and rot
Tip: When handling pampas grass, you should always wear long clothing, protective goggles and, above all, thick gloves. The blade edges have razor-sharp saw teeth, which can easily cause minor cuts.
The right place to spend the winter
Depending on the local conditions, pampas grass can also overwinter in a bucket in a frost-free area. This can be particularly advisable in particularly wet and cold winters. The winter quarters should be as cool and light as possible, for example in a frost-free garage, a shed, cellar or unheated conservatory.
Tip: Tubs of pampas grass usually have a large weight. So that they remain flexible and can be transported without any problems, it is advisable to place the tubs on a plant trolley right from the start.
Care during the winter
Even though wetness is this plant's biggest enemy, it does need an occasional watering during the winter. This is especially true for plants that overwinter in sheltered areas.
- Bales should neither be wet nor dry out completely
- fertilizer can be dispensed with during the winter
- this applies to outdoor and container plants
- next spring, around March, time for pruning
Experts advise doing this preferably in two stages and first cutting down to about 20 cm. As soon as the new shoots appear, you can cut back to the ground without damaging the new shoots. But it shouldn't be wrong if you cut right down to the ground.
Overwinter in the garden
The pampas grass, originally native to South America, is used to cold winters and is relatively tough. Nevertheless, in our latitudes, it needs protection against cold and winter wetness. This is particularly important in the garden, because here the ornamental grass is exposed to all kinds of weather. Especially in winter it is often very humid, and a blanket of snow on the grass makes the whole thing even worse. With younger grasses, it is particularly important to protect the root area with a covering of fir branches layered around the clumps. Leaves are less suitable, they could impede or even prevent ventilation and encourage rot.
Tie straws together
As with potted plants, the stalks of grasses planted out should be loosely tied together in autumn. Here it is all the more important to protect the heart inside the plant from moisture and extreme cold. Tying them together creates a kind of closed roof, which acts as frost and moisture protection at the same time.
You choose a day with dry weather and make sure that the stalks are dry. Since the weight of the bound leaves and stalks can be very great, it is advisable to stabilize them with a few supports that you drive into the ground. To protect against severe frosts, you can also wrap a fleece around the bottom of the grass. In this way, the pampas grass is protected from all the adversities of winter and can also produce numerous of its magnificent panicles of flowers next year.