A few years ago I interviewed a garden designer who had been charged with creating a garden around a new, modern house on a suburban estate of 1970s bungalows. On the front lawn was a large pampas grass. The designer joked to the owners about the plant's dubious associations, about which they had been previously unaware. When he returned to the site a few weeks later, the offending plant had been ripped out.


Nowadays the owners might have been happy to leave the plant be, as pampas grass is firmly back in fashion. Or at least, its feathery plumes are. The hashtag #pampasgrass currently has 674,000 posts on Instagram, the vast majority featuring the dried pampas grass. The dried flower heads are popular in modern interiors and are in demand for boho-style wedding bouquets, floral decorations, flower arches and even Christmas wreaths. Dried pampas flower heads are so popular that last year, South Tyneside Council had to ask the public not to cut the flower heads from a beach in South Shields, where it is planted to combat coastal erosion.

South Tyneside Council had to ask the public not to cut the flower heads from a beach in South Shields, where it is planted to combat coastal erosion.

Pampas grass, Cortaderia selloana, used to be a common sight in front gardens, but fell out of favour, largely thanks to the urban myth that a pampas in a front garden signalled that the homeowners were, ahem, swingers. In 2011, the presenter Mariella Frostrup planted two pampas grasses on a balcony in London, and tweeted that she was shocked by the local response.

However in 2022, it appears that we have forgotten pampas' dodgy associations – or that we don't care about them. Whether the passion for the dried flower heads translates into sales of pampas grass plants remains to be seen – but there are some good reasons why you should add a plant to your own garden.

By growing your own pampas grass, you will enjoy an abundance of flower heads without the air miles. The vast majority of dried pampas grass flowers are imported to the UK and a one-metre stem could set you back £10 or more.

Caroline Beck, a cut flower grower and owner of Verde Flower Co in County Durham, told us: 'Most small UK growers wouldn’t grow pampas grass in any great qualities because it takes a few years to get big enough to harvest, and by then fashions will have moved on.'

A pampas could also look good in your garden. Newer, more compact varieties of Cortaderia selloana such as Cortaderia selloana Tiny Pampa are now available, suitable for pots or small gardens. The Austraderia types, such as Austraderia fulvida, hail from New Zealand and have more elegant and arching foliage than their clumpier counterparts. And there is even a pink pampas grass or two, which could surely be the next big thing.

If you want to dry the flowers, Caroline advises: 'Cut just before it's about to shed. We then hang it upside down in our glasshouse for about a month, which both bleaches and dries it ready for use.'


In the November 2022 issue of Gardens Illustrated, we highlight the cultivars growing at plant expert Adrian Bloom's garden, Foggy Bottom, at Bressingham Gardens in Norfolk. It might just convince you to see pampas grass in new light.

Grasses drying at Verde Flowers
Grasses drying at Verde Flower Co


Veronica Peerless is a trained horticulturalist and garden designer.