I purchased some Pink Pampas Grass seeds and have since received/found conflicting messages about whether they are okay to plant in the Toronto area. I know that in a moderate climate like California they are considered invasive but that they don’t do as well in harsher climates. Does that mean it’s okay to plant them in your garden? Is there a similar plant that would be preferable?
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.
Pink Pampas Grass, Cortaderia selloana, is marginally hardy with winter protection in the Toronto area. This massive ornamental grass takes three years to reach full maturity, and needs long summers to flower. As such, seeds planted in Toronto are unlikely to produce the massive pink panicles for which it is known.
Another factor to consider, its leaves have sharp teeth that cut into the skin.
So, Pink Pampas Grass is not a good choice for a Toronto garden.
Furthermore, Pampas grass has proved extremely invasive in many countries and is listed in the Global Invasive Species Database. Although the Ontario Invasive Plant Council does not currently list this grass as invasive, at least one local conservation authority near Toronto, the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, states that Pampas Grass is now becoming invasive in Ontario and should be avoided.
These alternatives to Pampas grass are not as massive, but are native to Ontario and not invasive:
- Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) – Purple/brown -green flowers that bloom July-September. Blue/green-burgundy foliage in fall. Height to 2.5 meters.
- Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) – Blue-red flowers in summer, bronze foliage in fall. 1-2.5 meters tall.
- Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans) – Gold purple sprays of flowers and seeds in the fall. 1-2.5 meters tall.
You can find more information on these grasses in the following publication, pages 20-22.