How to Grow Ravenna Grass (Erianthus ravennae): A Guide for Gardening

hardy pampas grass
hardy pampas grass

Holding the power to transform any landscape into a picturesque haven, Ravenna grass, also known as Hardy Pampas Grass or Erianthus ravennae, stands tall and proud. This majestic ornamental grass has captured the hearts of landscape designers, garden enthusiasts, and beginner gardeners alike with its striking appearance and low-maintenance nature. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the enchanting world of Ravenna grass, exploring its origins, discussing its growth requirements, providing expert care tips, and unveiling the secrets to successfully cultivating this breathtaking addition to your garden.

What is Ravenna Grass?

Ravenna grass, scientifically known as Erianthus ravennae, is a perennial grass species native to the Mediterranean region and parts of Africa and Asia. Revered for its architectural presence and stunning plumes, Ravenna grass is a popular choice for landscaping projects, adding height, texture, and movement to gardens, parks, and open spaces.

FactorsRavenna Grass
Family (Botanic)Poaceae (Grass family)
Other Common NamesHardy Pampas Grass, Plume Grass
Scientific NameErianthus ravennae
Height & SpreadHeight: 6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 meters)
Spread: 4-6 feet (1.2-1.8 meters)
Sun ExposureFull sun to partial shade
USDA Growing ZonesZones 6-9
WaterModerate water needs
Pests & DiseasesGenerally resistant to pests and diseases
Soil TypeWell-drained soil
Soil pHNeutral to slightly acidic (pH 6.0-7.0)
Bloom TimeLate summer to early fall
Flower ColorCreamy white or light brown plumes
Native AreaSoutheastern Europe, Western Asia

Growing Ravenna Grass

Ravenna grass thrives in areas with full sun exposure, but it can tolerate partial shade as well. It is adaptable to a range of soil types, including loamy, sandy, and clay soils, making it a versatile option for various landscapes. Here are the essential steps to successfully grow Ravenna grass:

  • Selecting the Perfect Location: Choose a spacious area where the grass can spread its elegant plumes without crowding other plants. Ensure the location receives ample sunlight throughout the day.
  • Preparing the Soil: Before planting Ravenna grass, prepare the soil by removing weeds and loosening it to improve drainage. Incorporating organic matter, such as compost, helps enrich the soil and promotes healthy growth.
  • Planting Ravenna Grass: Dig a hole that accommodates the root ball of the grass and place it carefully, ensuring the crown is level with the soil surface. Backfill the hole and firm the soil gently to eliminate air pockets.
  • Watering and Mulching: After planting, thoroughly water the grass and apply a layer of organic mulch around the base to retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and insulate the roots.

When to plant Ravenna grass

Ravenna Grass (Erianthus ravennae), is typically planted in the spring or early summer when the soil has warmed up and the risk of frost has passed. This timing allows the grass to establish its root system and begin active growth in the warmer months. Here are some guidelines for when to plant Ravenna Grass:

Here’s a summarized table outlining the best times for planting Ravenna Grass:

Planting TimeConditionsBenefits and Considerations
SpringAfter last frost, warmed soilOptimal time for root establishment and growth
Soil temperature: 50-65°FEnsures active growth during the growing season
Early SummerBefore hottest weatherAlternative if spring planting window is missed
Adequate wateringProvides time for establishment before heat sets in

It’s important to consider your local climate and frost dates when determining the best time to plant Ravenna Grass. Providing the grass with the right growing conditions, including full sun and well-draining soil, will contribute to its successful establishment and growth.

How fast does Ravenna grass grow

Ravenna Grass, is known for its rapid growth rate, making it an impressive addition to the landscape. Under favorable growing conditions, Ravenna Grass can grow quite quickly. Here are some general guidelines regarding the growth rate of Ravenna Grass:

  1. First Year: In its first year of growth, Ravenna Grass can establish a substantial root system and produce foliage, but it may not reach its full potential height during this initial season.
  2. Subsequent Years: Once established, Ravenna Grass can grow at a rate of around 2 to 3 feet (approximately 0.6 to 0.9 meters) or more in height per growing season. This rapid growth makes it a popular choice for creating screens, hedges, or focal points in the landscape.
  3. Size at Maturity: At maturity, Ravenna Grass can reach heights of 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 meters) or even more, depending on the growing conditions. The plumes that appear in late summer and fall can add further height and visual interest to the plant.

Keep in mind that the growth rate of Ravenna Grass can vary based on factors such as soil fertility, water availability, sunlight, and climate. Providing optimal growing conditions, including full sun and well-draining soil, can help promote vigorous growth.

What color is Ravenna grass?

Ravenna grass, also known as Hardy Pampas Grass (Erianthus ravennae), typically exhibits a warm golden hue. The feathery plumes of this ornamental grass sway in the breeze, creating a captivating display of color and texture in the landscape. The mature plumes often turn a light tan or beige color as they age, adding to the visual appeal of this grass variety.

Where did Ravenna grass originate?

Ravenna grass, scientifically known as Erianthus ravennae, is native to the Mediterranean region, including areas like Southern Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. It was introduced to various parts of the world as an ornamental grass due to its tall and impressive stature, as well as its decorative plumes. Ravenna grass is often admired for its ability to add a touch of elegance and movement to gardens and landscapes.

Care Tips for Ravenna Grass

Ravenna grass is prized not only for its stunning plumes but also for its low-maintenance nature. However, providing it with some care and attention can enhance its overall health and vibrancy. Follow these care tips to ensure your grass thrives:

  • Watering: While Ravenna grass is drought-tolerant once established, regular watering is essential during its initial growth stage. Water deeply, ensuring the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. Reduce watering in winter to prevent root rot.
  • Fertilization: Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in early spring to provide essential nutrients. Avoid excessive fertilization, as it can lead to weak growth and flopping of the plumes.
  • Pruning: In late winter or early spring, before new growth emerges, cut back the previous year’s foliage to a few inches above the ground. This rejuvenation pruning helps maintain the grass’s vigor and promotes the growth of fresh plumes.
  • Division: After a few years, Ravenna grass may become overcrowded and lose its vitality. Dividing the grass every 3-4 years in early spring rejuvenates the plant, improves its appearance, and promotes healthy growth.

When to trim Ravenna grass

Trimming Ravenna Grass (Erianthus ravennae), also known as Hardy Pampas Grass, is typically done in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins to emerge. This timing ensures that the grass maintains its visual appeal and health while promoting vigorous growth and abundant plumes during the upcoming growing season. Here’s a guideline for when to trim Ravenna Grass:

  • Best Time: The best time to trim Ravenna Grass is in late winter to early spring, before the start of new growth.
  • Timing: Aim to trim the grass before the last frost date for your region. In many areas, this can be in late February to early March.

Trimming in late winter helps remove any dead or damaged growth from the previous season and encourages fresh, healthy growth. It also prevents the grass from looking messy and prepares it for its upcoming growth cycle. Be mindful of frost dates in your area and avoid trimming too early if there’s still a risk of cold weather.

How short to prune cut back Ravenna grass

When pruning or cutting back Ravenna Grass (Erianthus ravennae), it’s generally recommended to leave the grass at a height of about 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) above the ground. This height allows for several benefits:

  1. Protection: Leaving a portion of the previous year’s growth provides some insulation and protection for the emerging new shoots from potential frost and cold temperatures.
  2. Reshaping: Cutting the grass to this height helps reshape it and removes any dead or damaged foliage from the previous year, giving the grass a neater appearance.
  3. Encouraging Growth: Leaving some of the previous growth can assist in shielding the emerging new shoots from strong winds and harsh weather, thus encouraging healthy new growth.

Keep in mind that the specific height at which you prune Ravenna Grass can vary depending on your preferences and local growing conditions. However, staying within the range of 6 to 12 inches is a good guideline for maintaining the health and aesthetics of the grass.

hardy pampas grass

Is Erianthus ravennae a perennial?

Yes, Erianthus ravennae, commonly known as Ravenna Grass or Hardy Pampas Grass, is a perennial grass. This means that it lives for multiple years, coming back each year from the same root system. Ravenna Grass is known for its tall and striking plumes, making it a popular choice for adding visual interest and texture to gardens and landscapes.

As a perennial grass, Ravenna Grass goes through a natural growth cycle each year. It produces new growth in the spring, develops its distinctive plumes in late summer to fall, and then enters a period of dormancy during the winter months. With proper care and maintenance, including appropriate pruning and division, Ravenna Grass can thrive and provide its ornamental beauty for many years.

Ravenna Grass vs Pampas Grass

Ravenna grass (Erianthus ravennae) and Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) are both popular tall ornamental grasses for privacy known for their tall stature, attractive plumes, and ability to create visual impact in gardens and landscapes. While they share some similarities, there are distinct differences between Ravenna grass and Pampas grass that are worth noting:

FeaturesRavenna GrassPampas Grass
SpeciesErianthus ravennaeCortaderia selloana
Growth HabitsForms large clumps or tussocksForms larger and more expansive clumps
HeightPlumes reach 6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 meters)Plumes reach 10-13 feet (3-4 meters)
Plume CharacteristicsNarrower plumes, creamy white or light brown colorFeathery and showy plumes, wide range of colors
Cold HardinessHardy, tolerant of colder climates (zones 6-9)Suited to milder climates (zones 7-10)
Invasive PotentialGenerally considered less invasivePotential for invasiveness, spreads through roots and self-seeding

When selecting between Ravenna grass and Pampas grass, it’s important to consider factors such as climate, available space, desired height, and the potential for invasiveness. Both grasses can be stunning additions to the landscape when properly maintained, but it’s crucial to be aware of the specific growth habits and requirements of each species to ensure they are suitable for your garden or landscape design.

Is Ravenna Grass invasive?

Ravenna grass (Erianthus ravennae) is not typically considered invasive in the same way that Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) can be. Ravenna grass generally has a less aggressive growth habit and is less likely to spread extensively or become invasive in most regions.

However, it’s important to note that the term “invasive” can have different interpretations and can vary depending on the specific location and ecological context. In some regions, under specific conditions, Ravenna grass may exhibit more aggressive growth and potentially have the potential to spread beyond desired boundaries. It’s always recommended to check with local authorities or gardening experts in your specific area to understand the potential invasive tendencies of Ravenna grass and to ensure it is appropriate for your landscape.

Additionally, responsible gardening practices, such as regular maintenance, monitoring, and preventing the escape of seeds or rhizomes into natural areas, can help mitigate any potential invasiveness concerns.

How big does Ravenna grass get?

Ravenna Grass (Erianthus ravennae), also known as Hardy Pampas Grass, is known for its impressive size and stature. Under optimal growing conditions, it can reach considerable heights and widths. Here are the typical size ranges for Ravenna Grass:

  1. Height: Ravenna Grass can grow to an average height of 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 meters). However, in some cases, it can even reach heights of up to 20 feet (6 meters) or more under ideal conditions.
  2. Spread: The clumps of Ravenna Grass can spread to a width of about 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) or more, creating a substantial presence in the landscape.

These dimensions make Ravenna Grass an excellent choice for creating screens, hedges, or focal points in larger gardens and landscapes. Its tall plumes and imposing size can add drama and vertical interest to various outdoor settings.

However, due to its potential for rapid growth and significant size, proper planning and placement are important to ensure it doesn’t overcrowd other plants or structures in the landscape. Regular maintenance, such as division and pruning, can help manage its size and maintain its desired appearance.

What is Hardy pampas grass?

The term “hardy” in its name refers to the grass’s ability to withstand colder climates and harsh conditions, making it suitable for a wider range of regions compared to its cousin, Pampas grass. Hardy Pampas Grass is known for its resilience and adaptability, being able to tolerate a variety of soil types and weather conditions.

Hardy Pampas Grass, scientifically known as Erianthus ravennae, is a perennial grass species that is often referred to as Ravenna grass. It is a close relative of the more well-known Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) and shares many similarities in appearance and growth habits. Hardy Pampas Grass is valued for its tall and majestic stature, with plumes that rise high above its foliage, creating a dramatic and eye-catching display in gardens and landscapes.

This ornamental grass typically grows in large clumps, with long, arching leaves that can reach heights of 8 to 12 feet. In late summer or early fall, Hardy Pampas Grass produces impressive plumes that can extend above the foliage, reaching heights of 10 feet or more. The plumes are feathery and often have a creamy white or light brown color, adding texture, movement, and visual interest to the landscape.

Design Ideas with Ravenna Grass

The architectural splendor of Ravenna grass makes it a versatile addition to various landscaping styles. Here are some design ideas to inspire your creative journey:

  1. Statement Focal Point: Plant Ravenna grass in the center of a garden bed or as a standalone specimen to create a captivating focal point. Its impressive height and graceful plumes will command attention and infuse your landscape with a touch of drama.
  2. Privacy and Screening: Harness the full potential of Ravenna grass by using it as a natural screen to add privacy and conceal unsightly views. Plant it in rows or clusters along fences or boundaries to create a visually stunning and functional barrier.
  3. Coastal Landscapes: Ravenna grass’s adaptability to coastal environments makes it an excellent choice for seaside gardens. Its ability to withstand strong winds and tolerate salt spray makes it a resilient and eye-catching addition to coastal landscapes.

What to Plant With Ravenna Grass?

When selecting companion plants to grow alongside Ravenna grass (Erianthus ravennae), it’s important to consider plants that will complement its striking appearance and create a harmonious landscape. Here are some excellent choices to consider:

  1. Ornamental Grasses: Pair Ravenna grass with other ornamental grasses like Miscanthus, Feather Reed grass (Calamagrostis), or Fountain grass (Pennisetum). This combination creates a visually pleasing display with varying heights, textures, and plume shapes.
  2. Tall Perennials: Choose tall perennials that can provide a backdrop or contrast to Ravenna grass. Examples include Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum), or Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia). These plants add color, texture, and vertical interest to the landscape.
  3. Native Wildflowers: Incorporate native wildflowers like Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), or New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). These plants not only add vibrant colors but also attract pollinators, enhancing the ecological value of your garden.
  4. Evergreen Shrubs: Integrate evergreen shrubs such as Boxwood (Buxus), Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca ‘Conica’), or Japanese Pieris (Pieris japonica) around Ravenna grass. These shrubs provide year-round structure and create a contrasting backdrop for the grass’s plumes.
  5. Flowering Perennials: Choose flowering perennials like Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum), or Purple Salvia (Salvia nemorosa) to add pops of color and create a vibrant and lively composition with Ravenna grass.

Remember to consider the specific growing requirements of each plant, including sunlight, soil type, and moisture preferences, to ensure they are compatible with Ravenna grass and will thrive in your garden. By combining different plant forms, heights, textures, and colors, you can create a visually appealing and dynamic landscape that complements the beauty of Ravenna grass.


Is Ravenna grass the same as pampas grass?

Yes, Ravenna grass is often referred to as Hardy Pampas Grass or Erianthus ravennae. While Ravenna grass shares similar characteristics and visual appeal with traditional Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana), they are different species. Both Ravenna grass and Pampas grass are ornamental grasses known for their tall stature and beautiful plumes, but they have slight variations in their growth habits and specific requirements. It’s important to note the distinction between the two when discussing their cultivation and care.

Is Saccharum Ravennae also known as Plumegrass or Ravenna grass?

Yes, Saccharum ravennae is indeed known by the common names “Plumegrass” or “Ravenna grass.” Saccharum ravennae is a synonym for Erianthus ravennae, which is the scientific name for Ravenna grass. So, when you come across the names Saccharum ravennae, Plumegrass, or Ravenna grass, they are referring to the same plant.

What zone is Erianthus Ravennae in?

Erianthus ravennae, commonly known as Ravenna grass or Hardy Pampas Grass, is typically suited for USDA hardiness zones 6-9. This means it can withstand winter temperatures as low as -10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it’s worth noting that local climate conditions and microclimates within a zone can also impact the plant’s success.


With its regal stature, enchanting plumes, and effortless maintenance, Ravenna grass offers a wealth of possibilities for landscape designers, garden enthusiasts, and beginner gardeners alike. Its versatility, adaptability, and resilience make it a captivating addition to any garden or open space. So, unleash the majesty of Ravenna grass and let it weave its magic, transforming your outdoor haven into a breathtaking landscape that will leave everyone in awe.

Rachel Lean
Rachel Lean

Adventurer, loving nature and plants, particularly Pampas Grass. Happy to share with other people the knowledge that I accumulated on the journey of my life.