pampas grass alternative

ccodd(sacramento, ca)February 15, 2010

OK, I was set to try pampas grass, I think it's beautiful to look at, in front of an ugly telephone pole and behind a japaneses maple to highlight it, but after research and reading other's views on this grass I changed my mind. Now I need a tall, white landscaping alternative to the pampas grass. Any ideas...I live in Sacramento?

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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I don't think you will have the same issues with Cortaderia escaping into the wilds in Sacramento, especially if you do the prudent thing and avoid the less showy but more invasively selfseeding C. jubata, which is the species that has naturalized/escaped along the coast. Also, it is not going to escape if you cut off the seed heads before they tend to shatter and blow away.

The dwarf cultivars of Pampas Grass, Cortaderia selloana 'Gold Band' is also a better mannered plant but doesn't get nearly as large. C. s. 'Silver Comet' is another form to look for.

If you want the size of the Cortaderia, but unfortunately without the showy seed heads, the only similar sized plant of similar form that I can think of is Phormium tenax, in either the green leaf form or the bronzed leaf forms, which would also do well in Sacramento as long as it got summer irrigation.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 11:43AM
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Dick_Sonia(Sunset 17)

White? Pampas grass is green. I don't think there are any plants that come in white.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 11:47AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Probably referring to the white plumes...

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 2:53PM
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borderbarb

Most Pampas grass has large white/ivory flower-head fronds. Very striking. Looks like whole plant is white.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pampas grass pictures

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 2:57PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I wouldn't plant it in a small yard. It gets dead leaves under the new growth, and it is a nasty chore to clean them out. Each leaf is a ten foot long serrated knife. When I was a child, my grandpa used to just set his on fire every so often to clean it up. I don't think they let you do that any more.

They are so beautiful, though!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 9:16PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Forgot to say: how much sun?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 9:19PM
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PRO
Propaganda Garden Design

How does Persicaria polymorpha do in the Sacramento area? I've only grown it on the east coast.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:17PM
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ccodd(sacramento, ca)

Thanks bahia. Of course I was referring to those great white plumes....and the spot gets plenty of sun, minimum 6 hours. I'm still searching

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 11:10PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

I had to do a google search to learn about the Persicaria polymorpha, as I have never seen this for sale here in California, nor in anyone's garden. It is a very showy plant when in bloom, and does give a rather good approximation of the plumes of a Pampas Grass. I suspect it isn't as well adapted to our milder USDA 9b/10a to 11 climate here in coastal California, or it may be more invasive by seed and roots here in California. An interesting plant. I do have a Persicaria species with large white panicles of flowers similar to this that originally came from Digging Dog Nursery here in California, but in looking at their web site, they don't list anything similar anymore. I don't remember what the species name is, but my plant tends to spread rather widely from the roots, rather than staying a tamer clump.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2010 at 11:30AM
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mlevie

I'm pretty sure High Country Gardens sells a sterile cultivar of pampas grass, if you like the look but don't want to plant something potentially invasive...

Here is a link that might be useful: Cortaderia

    Bookmark   February 19, 2010 at 12:23PM
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thahalibut(Z-9 CA, SSZ-9)

How about a Miscanthus? I have a miscanthus sinensis Adagio, its one of my favorites plants I have. Mine gets about 4' tall but some other miscanthus get to 7' or more. It loves the Sacramento climate & thrives for me in full sun, sorry no good pics.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2010 at 6:02PM
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ccodd(sacramento, ca)

THANK YOU! Great suggestions. I was also thinking of Miscanthus and may try that, but then I also found the sterile Pampas that was recommended. Guess the decision will be about those "sword-like" leaves

    Bookmark   February 19, 2010 at 10:41PM
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staceybeth(7 MA)

I planted 2 dwarf pampas grass in a bald spot in front of my house last spring. During the summer, no plumes... nothing.. just green.... in the fall, i cut them down to the stump.. and now it just the beginning of June and both of them are still little brown stumps. Will they ever grow back.. or, are they dead. Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 7:03PM
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calistoga_al

I have three of the dwarf pampas. I purchased one last year and divided into three. Of the three only one bloomed last year, no surprise after dividing. They went through the winter and look very full now, so expect they all will bloom this year. They are in the full sun and on the drip system. Al

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 9:35AM
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