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Cortaderia richardii (Toe Toe Grass)

This is the New Zealand equivalent of the better known South American Pampas grass (pronounced Toy-toy, the Māori name). Greener, more evergreen, more elegant and summer flowering. They seem adaptable to all sorts of soil types as long as they’re not water-logged. As with all grasses, they like masses of light. Pampas grass is best cut down every winter to grow again as they are not evergreen but this can be left. Having said that, cutting them down every three years is a great way to rid the plant of old leaves.

The grass will grow to about 4ft x 4ft (slightly smaller than Pampas) and the gracefully arching fawn coloured flower plumes can reach 6 or 7 ft. We had a rather fine clump of them at the old nursery in the stock field. John Studzinski declared them to look ‘ridiculous’. A bit harsh (and wrong), I thought. They’re just Posh Pampas – both elegant and exotic. Best grown in multiples – swathes, blocks, sweeps and the like.

The penultimate picture is of Toe-Toe growing naturally by the Haast Highway on the west coast of South Island N.Z. in early February – the equivalent of early August in the Northern Hemisphere. The last picture is of it growing – more or less – in standing fresh water in the nearby Lake Moeraki. The fact that a number of plants (these and Phormium tenax spring to mind) hate boggy ground and yet will happily grow in standing (but moving) water is a mystery. It’s said that roots can adapt but to tell a customer that a plant will grow in standing (moving and fresh – not salt) but not in water logged ground can cause confusion – to both them and, to be honest, us.

Propagated by us from seed from New Zealand.



Hardiness traffic light green

Hardiness level Green

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Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.