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Guide to Growing Quaking Grass

Briza are hardy annual or hardy perennial grasses.

Some of the common names for these plants include Quaking grass, Rattlesnake grass, Cow-quake, and Doddering dillies.

These are often grown as ornamental grasses in the garden.

Description of Briza

These genus of plants grows to a height of between 30 and 60cm.

They flower in the Summer carrying spearheads of silver.

Briza media
Briza media by Bas Kers.

Briza major
Briza major by David Hofmann 08.

Information on Briza and commonly grown garden species

There are twelve species in the Briza genus, and they go under the common names of Quaking grasses. They are members of the grass family (Poaceaea) and the native origins are the Mediterranean regions of South Europe, Northern Africa and West Asia. It has since been introduced and naturalized in the rest of Europe, Australasia and the Americas.

As a member of the grass family Briza is closely related to species such as Rice (Oryza), Wheat (Triticum), Oats (Avena), Bamboo (Phyllostachys) and Stipa.

There are three main species of Briza that are grown as ornamental grasses by gardeners, most of these were given their common names because of how they seem to shiver in slight breezes.

Briza media: Quaking grass; Cow quake; Didder; Doddering dillies; Jocky grass; Quakers and Shakers; Tottergrass. (perennial)

Briza maxima: Great quaking grass; Blowfly grass; Shell grass (annual)

Briza minor: Little quaking grass (annual)



Quick Briza Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Quaking Grass, Rattlesnake Grass, Cow-quake, Doddering Dillies.
Life Cycle: Hardy annual. Hardy perennial.
Height: 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm).
Native: Mediterranean.
Growing Region: Zones 4 to 8.
Flowers: Summer.
Flower Details: Inconspicuous pale green; plants are grown for their attractive silvery or bronze spearheads.
Foliage: Fine stalks. Blades.
Sow Outside: 1/8 inch (3 mm). Late Summer or following the last frost. Spacing 12 inches (30 cm).
Sow Inside: Use peat pots. Germination time: one to three weeks. Temperature 55°F (13°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost.
Requirements: Full sunlight or light shade. Good drainage. Light soils. Poor soils. Regular watering. Cut back to the ground in the middle of summer. Propagation: Perennials can be divided at the start of spring.

How to Grow Briza species such as Quaking Grass

If planning to grow Briza outdoors from the off it is best to sow out the seed either at the end of summer or at the end of spring when there is no chance of frost at a depth of about 3mm.

When growing Quaking grass indoors before transplanting then the process should be started about 7 weeks before putting the seedlings outdoor. Be sure to use peat pots for annual species as they do not like to be moved. Germination of Briza should be performed at 13 degrees Celsius and takes two or three weeks.

The seedlings should then be put out after the last chance of any frost in the spring. Seedlings should be spaced at about 30 cm and put into a well drained light soil.

Caring for Briza plants

Plants of the Briza genus are pretty easy to look after; they should be regularly watered in dry periods (despite their drought tolerance) and cut back to the ground when they begin to look tatty. Though most of the plants of this genus are drought tolerant Briza minor is not, so be sure to take good care of this species in hot weather.

Specific Plant Information and Tips on Growing Briza in the Garden

Briza media: Quaking grass; Rattlesnake grass

This perennial ornamental grass reaches an height of 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60cm) and looks delightful when its ¾ inch (2cm) long spearheads shake in a light breeze. Briza media can be grown in either a lightly shaded or fully sunlit part of the garden and should be spaced about 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm) apart. Blooms may be purple or green in color and occur in the middle of summer. As a perennial member of the Briza media genus it can be propagated by division at the start of spring, or by sowing seed following the last frost.

Briza maxima: Large quaking grass

This is an annual that reaches up to three feet (90cm) in height. It blooms in the summer carrying pale green spearheads. These plants are grown as an ornamental grass and look very attractive as part of a floral arrangement. As an annual it is important not to move the plant, so if starting inside be sure to use peat pots. Only grow from seed. Briza maxima plants like to grow in full sunlight and should be spaced about 12 inches (30 cm) apart.

Briza minor: Large quaking grass

These delightful ornamental annuals make great plants to use as ground cover. Unlike other members of the Briza genus they do not like over hot conditions; be sure to supply regular watering. Briza minor varieties range in height from 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) and should be grown in full sunlight. Sow seeds out following the last frost with a spacing of about 10 inches (25 cm).


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