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Gardening 101: Quaking Grass

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Quaking Grass, Briza media

Quaking grass usually is not the first plant to come to mind when most gardeners are designing a cutting garden. Instead, they choose the standard, traditional types of plants—the ones with flower petals.While flowers are important for shape, color, and texture, I am here to broaden your planting palette by introducing you to an easy-to-grow, dependable ornamental grass that can transform your flower arrangements.

Quaking grass (Briza media) will add dimension and texture to a cutting garden or landscape. Is it the right ornamental grass for your garden? Keep reading to find out.

Briza media in Southern Heath Nature Park in Germany. Quaking grass is named for the tiny greenish flowers which turn to flattened purple pendants that dangle like quivering earrings. The flowers become straw-colored with maturity, Photograph by Hajotthu via Wikimedia Commons.

Above: Briza media in Southern Heath Nature Park in Germany. Quaking grass is named for the tiny greenish flowers which turn to flattened purple pendants that dangle like quivering earrings. The flowers become straw-colored with maturity, Photograph by Hajotthu via Wikimedia Commons.

Quaking grass is native to Europe, Asia, and the British Isles. The genus includes roughly 20 annual and perennial species, and the plants were brought—not surprisingly—into cultivation for use as cut and dried flowers.

Photograph by Dluogs via Flickr.

Above: Photograph by Dluogs via Flickr.

The fine leaves slowly clump to a low to medium habit of 12-18″ tall, with the flower stalks rising above.  The foliage remains evergreen in mild regions. Luckily this is a non-competitive grass that politely incorporates into many different garden themes and placements, including being nestled near cobblestones in a dry stream bed, or tucked against a wide board fence in a cottage garden. Wherever situated, this is one of those ornamental grasses that will make you see plants in a different way in relation to their different uses in and out of the garden.

Quaking grass serves as a useful backdrop to showier garden flowers, as seen in this combination of foxgloves and briza. See more in Before & After: A Seaside English Garden by Farlam & Chandler. Photograph courtesy of Farlam & Chandler.

Above: Quaking grass serves as a useful backdrop to showier garden flowers, as seen in this combination of foxgloves and briza. See more in Before & After: A Seaside English Garden by Farlam & Chandler. Photograph courtesy of Farlam & Chandler.

Cheat Sheet

  • Incorporate quaking grass into a cutting garden, naturalized area, meadow, woodland, or cottage border.
  • Briza media is best huddled in small groups or massed for a more dramatic effect.
  • Quaking grass looks lovely next to other airy perennials including coreopsis, cosmos, and salvias.
  • Flowers can be cut for fresh or dry flower arrangements.
  • No serious insect or disease problems afflict B. media, and it is left alone by deer.
Quaking grass intermingles with scabious (Knautia arvensis) in Wales. Photograph by Dr. Mary Gilham Archive Project via Flickr.

Above: Quaking grass intermingles with scabious (Knautia arvensis) in Wales. Photograph by Dr. Mary Gilham Archive Project via Flickr.

Keep It Alive

  • Briza likes regular weekly watering and more in extreme heat. Also: water regularly during the first growing season to establish an extensive, deep root system.
  • Plant quaking grass in full sun to part shade in hotter areas for best growth.
  • Quaking grass tolerates a wide range of soils, but appreciates well-draining the most.
  • For a tidy appearance, cut back old foliage immediately after seed heads disappear to encourage additional fresh growth through early winter.  Also in springtime divide clumps every two to three years.

See more growing tips in Quaking Grass: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design in our curated guides to Grasses 101. For more ideas, read:

Source

https://www.gardenista.com/posts/gardening-101-quaking-grass/

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