Pampas is a tall, wispy plant that started to appear in spring bouquets and has just kept on through summer and fall. (Photo courtesy Missy Caughy)

Surely somewhere, a blushing bride has shown her father her on-trend pampas grass bouquet inspiration only to hear him say, “ah, that stuff? It grows down the back lane all the time.”
As usual, Dad’s right.
The airy, boho trend of dream weddings is indeed something you can grow on your own and then arrange and use in your own decor.
Pampas is the tall, wispy plant that started to appear in spring bouquets and just kept on through summer and fall. Missy Caughy, owner and floral designer of Pretty Little Weddings in Stevensville, gets pampas requests on a weekly basis.
“It started as a popular “boho” trend for our fall weddings,” she says. “We were pairing it with mute toned flowers and other dried grasses. Now we are incorporating it year-round, paired with yellow blooms and wicker during the spring, with bright coral and pink blooms with fern in the summer and darker and moodier blooms in the fall.
“Brides come in after seeing it everywhere from Instagram to celebrity weddings and love the look for their own celebration.”
Caughy says she doesn’t expect the trend to end soon as it’s already in many plans for her 2022 and 2023 weddings, nor does she mind it sticking around.
“It’s an extremely versatile element in floral design, as it can serve as an accent to bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces, or even as a focal point for ceremony design.”
Even if there isn’t a wedding in your future, they can easily make a statement in or out of your home.
Bridal visions aside, to a gardener, pampas grass is a large, feathery perennial grass that can grow up to ten feet tall and comes in a variety of pale, whimsical colors, from creamy whites to tans to blushes that was originally grown in South America.
In looking for pampas plants online, you’ll find some pretty rough press, especially out of California, Hawaii and Australia, where the ideal growing conditions can make certain varieties invasive and even illegal to grow.
Namely, the Cortaderia jubata, which has sharp blades to it and looks quite weedy.
It can get out of control in that area quickly as each plume holds about 100,000 seeds that can be gone with the wind for miles.
Though many varieties prefer the warmer southern weather, some varieties do very successfully grow here in Zone 7 in Maryland when placed in a sunny spot.
Driving down the road, you may confuse it with the invasive Asian Miscanthus because of the height, but the key difference is the fluffiness of the heads.
In Maryland, some native plant groups consider pampas invasive and but it is not officially labeled invasive by the state and can be purchased in some nurseries.
The University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center, however, urges gardeners to avoid planting Saccharum ravennae, with the common name of hardy pampas. You’ll want to clarify the variety with the nursery you purchase from and be aware of its potential to spread and won’t overcrowd your other garden plants.
For grasses in the landscape, native alternatives to pampas include Big bluestem, switchgrass, blue fescue, purple love grass, pink muhly grass, bottle brush grass and pearl millet.
Aside from looks, the grasses can also be a functional aspect of your landscape.
Because of their height and bulk, they are often suggested as a border or fence plant.
Planted in the early spring, they’ll bloom and really feather out from September to February, and then can be used in decor year-round.
It’s good practice to cut them back yearly anyway so it’s a good excuse to play around with arranging them.
To take them from your outside garden beds to inside your home as decor, you’ll want to do a few quick steps to keep them looking their best.
To preserve the branches, first shake to get any loose pieces or even bugs out, then spray with a high hold hairspray.
From there, bundle with a rubber band or twist-tie and hang upside down for about two weeks.
After being dried, they can last up to three years, though you’d want to retouch occasionally with hairspray.
A pinch of time sure beats paying at the craft store or Etsy or even on Amazon, where the average price for three 48-inch stems was $49.99.
Still, many decor enthusiasts are willing to pay the price.
Their beauty and neutral color makes them a candidate for a variety of vessels throughout the year.
If you’re going for a floor or taller arrangement, go for a tall vessel to support their lanky stems, whether it’s glass, wicker or even a repurposed crock. Ease in by sticking a simple bundle by itself or you can incorporate wheat in the fall or flowers in the spring.
When the warmer weather comes around again, go for a fresh look tucking in eucalyptus or go beachy with ferns.
You can also skip the vase or container all together and tuck them in on your mantle, side table or even a table runner for a fancier occasion.