Hordeum Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Hordeum plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Barley, and Squirrel-tail Grass: Cultivation & Garden Use

Plants of the Hordeum genus are hardy annual grasses.

They flower from late spring through the start of summer with silverly grey inflorescences atop 60 cm (2 feet) long stems.

Some of the common names for Hordeum include Barley, Squirreltail Barley, Squirrel-tail Grass, and Fox tail barley.

Hordeum vulgare
Hordeum vulgare – Barley by Dag Endresen; creative commons.

Hordeum vulgare – Barley Field by Cliff1066™; creative commons.

Hordeum Plant Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Barley, Squirrel-tail Grass. Barley: Common; Little; Wild; Sea; Wall; Hare;,Squirrel Tail; Arizona; Meadow; Dwarf.
Family: Poaceae.
Life Cycle: Hardy annual.
Height: 20 to 36 inches (50 to 90 cm).
Native: Temperate regions of the Americas, Europe, Asia and Southern Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.
Flowers: Spring and summer.
Flower Details: Inflorescences may be green, silvery, reddish-green, purplish and range from one to four inches (3 to 10 cm) in length. Spikelets.
Foliage: Sword-like.
Sow Outside: 1/8 inch (3 mm). Before the last frost or in autumn. Spacing 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm). Germination time: one day to two months. Temperature 70°F (21°C).
Sow Inside: No
Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Dry soil. Limy soil. Sheltered location.

How to Grow Barley and Squirreltail (Hordeum)

It is best to grow Squirreltail & Barley outdoors from the off.

The seeds of Hordeum Plants should be sown at a depth of 3 mm (1/8 inch) at the beginning of spring, before the last frost has occurred, or at the end of autumn.

For location, they like to grow in a sunny area that has good drainage and a limy soil.

Germination should take from three to seven weeks at about 21 degrees centigrade (70°F).

Caring for Hordeum Plants in the Garden

Once growing, the Hordeum seedlings should be thinned so as to be about 30 cm (12 inches) apart.

It is important to control the spread of Squirreltail Barley, as the plant can easily take over the garden.

Common Questions

How many members does the Hordeum genus have?

The Hordeum genus, known commonly as barley, includes 32 species, they are famous for their use in the production of beer and other food products.

Do members of Hordeum make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Hordeum is not commonly used in ornamental gardening but is often grown as a cereal crop. Some species like Hordeum jubatum or Foxtail Barley, are used in wild gardens for their attractive seed heads.

Which Hordeum species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Hordeum vulgare, or common barley, is often grown as a cereal crop, while Hordeum jubatum (Foxtail Barley) is sometimes grown in wild or naturalistic gardens.

Are members of the Hordeum plant genus fragrant?

Hordeum species are not generally known for their fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Hordeum?

Hordeum species prefer full sun and well-drained soil. They're drought-tolerant and do well in a variety of soil conditions.

Is Hordeum invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Foxtail Barley (Hordeum jubatum) can be invasive in some areas of the USA, particularly in the West and Midwest where it colonizes disturbed sites.

How do I remove Hordeum plants from my garden?

To remove Hordeum, uproot the plants ensuring all root fragments are removed as they can re-grow.


The Hordeum genus is a member of the Poaceae family, also known as the grass family. These plants, often annuals, are typically found in temperate regions worldwide. They are best recognized as cereal crops, with barley being a common example.

Hordeum prefers full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. It's a cool-season crop typically planted in the spring or fall. Regular watering is necessary, but over-watering should be avoided. Seed sowing is the common propagation method.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Hordeum plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Arundo donax, Allium plant, and Melica plants.