Is It Pampas Grass?

Every year we have numerous customers looking for the so-called Pampas grass that has large white flumes and grows along Wisconsin highways and in ditches.  Odds are very good that this grass you are seeing IS NOT pampas grass.  Pampas grass usually only grows down to Zone 6, maybe Zone 5.  What you are seeing is probably the Miscanthus Sacchariflorus or Amur Silvergrass.  This grass produces very little seed but it spreads, and rather aggressively, by rhizomes.  It is almost impossible to dig out as the rhizomes are intertwined and very thick.  The grass prefers wet sites, along ditches and highways.  You will also see clumps of this grass around old farmhouses as years ago the rhizomes were shared and the clumps just kept getting bigger and bigger.  Some states have listed this plant as invasive.  A plant that looks similar and is sold by most nurseries, including Trees Today Nursery, is the Flame Grass.  This grass is not invasive. It is a clump forming grass and over time the clumps spread wider.

Flame Grass
Photo by Trees Today Nursery