How To Grow Briza Maxima – Greater Quaking Grass

Looking for an unusual ornamental grass? Look no further! Greater Quaking Grass (Briza maxima) also known as rattlesnake grass, is a hardy annual grass in the UK, perfect for dried flower arrangements and textural interest in pots or flower beds. Here is how I grow Mine…

Briza maxima Quaking Grass

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Greater Quaking grass Origins

Briza maxima is native to southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. From there it was introduced to many countries as an ornamental grass species. Its first documented mention was in 1571 by the Flemish physician Botanist Mathew L’Obel.

Greater Quaking Grass Characteristics

Quaking grass (Briza maxima) is an ornamental grass that reaches heights of 45cm and has a spread of around 20-30 cm. The thin wiry stems support the small lantern-like, segmented flowers that nod in the breeze, a truly elegant and whimsical grass.

Also known as…big quaking grass, blowfly grass, fairy bells, giant shivery grass, cow-quake, didder, dithering-grass, doddering dillies, jiggle-joggles (Love this one!), jockey-grass, lady’s-hair, maidenhair-grass, pearl grass, quakers, shaking-grass, tottergrass, wag-wantons, broncho grass, lady’s heart grass, large quaking grass, large fairy bells, shaky grass, shell grass.

Greater Quaking grass folklore

You know me? I love a bit of folklore! Did you know that once upon a time, people believed quaking grass had magical powers! The grass was said to protect families from the most horrifying and formidable of beasts…THE MOUSE! Bear with gets better!

Today, mice may not be regarded as particularly dangerous, but rewind a few hundred years back to Old England and you’ll find the lowly Mouse was once regarded as a minion of the Devil! Back then, it was the common belief that mice were representatives of the devil and should one visit your home, they would bring bad omens, especially if a pregnant woman lived in that home.

In order to safeguard themselves the towns folk would harvest the unusual grass, dry it, then smear it in their hair and on their face as a form of protection. They believed this to be the only sure fire way to keep the devil from their door!… I might try it!

Planting Ideas for Greater Quaking Grass

A perfect grass for the front of borders and a wonderful textural grass for growing besides wildflowers. Best grown in groups for maximum impact! Also an ideal variety for growing in pots!

How To Grow Briza Maxima-Greater Quaking Grass

Buy Briza Maxima Seeds

Sow Indoors– February-March

  • Sow Briza Maxima seeds on to the surface of damp compost, sprinkle a light layer of compost on top
  • Cover with a propagator lid or cling film and place on a sunny windowsill
  • Once all risk of frost has passed, plant out the seedlings in clumps. Be sure to harden off first.

Briza maxima quaking grass seedling
New Quaking grass Sprouts!

What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently . This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.

How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.

Sow Outside – April-May

  • Sow direct in spring where they are to flower.
  • Sow roughly 6mm deep in rows that are 30cm apart in soil raked to a fine tilth.
  • Once seedlings emerge, thin out a little so the grass blades aren’t too crowded.

Where To Plant Briza Maxima

Grow Quaking Grass in groups, preferably in a full sun position (they will also tolerate partial shade) Plant in a well-drained soil and water regularly until established.

Briza maxima Quaking Grass dried flowers

Briza Maxima Pruning

No pruning or deadheading required. This fuss free plant just gets on with it!

Will Briza Maxima self seed?

Yep! Quaking grass will readily self seed providing you with delightful little lanterns year after year!

Briza Maxima For Dried Flower Arrangements

Quaking grass is perfect for drying! Simply pick, hang and dry in a sheltered dry environment for everlasting dry flower displays! Perfect for dried wreaths and Bouquets these delightful little nodding teardrops will add interest and texture to any arrangement!

Growing a Garden? Take a look at these helpful posts!

How To Grow Lobelia

How To Grow Delphiniums

How to Grow Dahlias

How To Grow Sweet Pea

How To Grow Snapdragons

How To Grow Cosmos

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