A small genus of hardy annual and perennial grasses. Noted for its graceful, heart-shaped seed-heads, which hang from tall, wiry stems. One of the most popular ornamental forms.

Family: Poaceae or Gramineae
Botanical Name: Briza (bree-za)
Common Names: Quaking grass, pearl grass.

Foliage: Deciduous, upright tufts of bright green, narrow, pointed leaves.

Flowers: Long-lasting, nodding spikelets on slender stems.

Flowering Period: Late spring to mid summer.

Soil: Moist but well-drained fertile soil (Chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun. Can be planted in any aspect.

Habit: Tufted.

Type: Perennial or annual.

Origin: Northern temperate zones and South America.

Hardiness: Hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Briza

Grow in a moist but free-draining soil, in a sunny but reasonably sheltered spot. Tolerant of poor, dry soils.

Suitable for growing in large drifts with other flowering plants. Ideal for wild gardens, prairie planting and informal areas.

Cut the flower stems for drying in dry sunny weather, when the spikelets are fully developed but before they set seeds. Hang up to dry in a cool airy place.

Particularly valuable for use in dried flower arrangements.

Taking Care of Briza

Lift and divide perennial plants every two or three years.

Pruning Briza

Trim off the old flower heads of perennials in autumn. Discard annuals after flowering.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest and disease free

Propagating Briza

Sow in prepared ground where they are to flower, in March-April. Thin seedlings to 9in between plants. Once established they often self seed freely.

Perennial forms can be carefully divided in mid-spring.

Varieties of Briza

Briza maxima (pearl grass) is a hardy annual grass with attractive panicles of nodding spikelets, with a purple tint. Height 18in (45cm), spread to 9in (23cm).

Briza media (quaking grass) is a perennial with pale green leaves and small, purplish-brown, heart-shaped seed-heads. Height to 18in (45cm), spread 6-10in (15-25cm. For sale at Crocus.

Briza minor (little quaking grass) is small annual form with dainty spikelets in late summer. Height 1ft (30cm), spread 6-8in (15-20cm).