Content Detail

Ravenna grass is a very large, non-native plant that is often used as a substitute for pampas grass in northern climates. It is sometimes called hardy pampas grass. This grass should be used with caution as it has shown invasive tendencies in southern states.

  • Family (English) Grass
  • Family (botanic) Poaceae
  • Tree or plant type Grass, Perennial
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9, Zone 10
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Arching

Size and form: 

Ravenna grass is very large, with the foliage growing 4 to 5 feet tall. When the flower stalks expand, the plant may reach heights between 8 and 12 feet. The foliage is arching, while the flower stalks more upright. Due to the large size of this plant, care should be taken when siting it in a landscape. This is a warm season, clumping grass.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Native to southern Europe and northern Africa.

Leaf description: 

Leaves are 1/2 to 1 inch wide and 3 to 4 feet long. They are gray-green in summer. In fall, the leaves will be tinged with shades of orange, purple, and tan before turning brown for winter.

Flower description: 

Flowering occurs in late summer, usually in August and September. The tiny flowers are silvery white to beige and often tinged with purple. They are held in plume-like clusters. The flowers are wind pollinated.

Fruit description: 

The small fruit (caryopsis or grains) form along the plume-like cluster that held the flowers. At maturity, the fruit have a cream color and a fluffy appearance. They persist into winter.

Plant care:

Full sun is best for ravenna grass. It prefers moist sites, but can tolerate some dryness. Avoid excessive fertilizer as this may lead to the plant becoming weak and floppy. This is a warm season grass, so its most active growth occurs in summer. It will remain standing in winter and can act as winter interest. Since this grass remains attractive through winter, it should not be cut back until early spring, before new growth begins. At that time, it can be cut down to the ground.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

No serious pest problems. This grass will self seed and has shown invasive tendencies in southern states.


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