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Hordeum jubatum - The Squirrel Tail Grass

Hordeum jubatum is sometimes perennial, sometimes annual! It matters not, for they freely seed themselves, so to all intents and purposes can be regarded as perennials.

The foliage is of little consequence - other than the good autumn colour. It is the flowers which are mainly of interest - especially to flower arrangers and those who like to dabble in 'dried' flowers!

Keep the kids away from them when in flower, for if swallowed (it does happen) they can need medical attention.

Hordeum jubatum has one big disadvantage - or advantage - in that it will seed itself readily and new seedlings will pop up every spring or early summer.

If you have ' that' type of garden, then the free seedlings and plants of the Squirrel tail Grass will be an advantage. If you have a somewhat spick and span garden, then you will need to be aware of the new seedlings popping up from time to time.

 Squirrel Tail Grass - Hordeum jubatumPlanted at front of a shrub border the parent and its inevitable offspring will be an asset - especially for the autumn colours. However, the summer is also quite a spectacular time for its green flower spikes. If it looks a little like the barley crops that you see in farm fields, that is because basically it is a form of Barley - but with low arching flower stems.

In the wild garden or stony scree garden, Hordeum jubatum has no equal. It will soon find itself at home and populate.

 Growing in masses, it really is a superb grass especially if it can catch the late afternoon or evening sunlight.

Hordeum jubatum close up image of flower spikesThe foliage is of little significance - other than to tell you that the plant or its seedlings are there! Without the spiked flower heads, this grass would not be worth growing.

Hordeum jubatum - the Squirrel tail Grass is grown from seed - Cuttings or divisions do not work with this particular grass.

Seed can be sown anywhere in the spring, and in a wild area, then just scatter the seeds wherever.

Where to Plant Hordeum

The heading should really be 'where NOT to plant Hordeum'

Hordeum jubatum should not be planted in rock gardens - unless you want a rocky outcrop of nodding Barley - a spectacular sight no doubt.

The best effects I have seen, is where the grass is allowed to freely re-seed itself - such as the edges of a gravel path or driveway. Light is all important for visual effect. Do work out where the sun will be at its lowest in early to mid Autumn evenings, for it is at this time of year that the Squirrel Tail Grass is at its most colourful.

It can be sown in a raised container for great effect, but be prepared to get rid of the new seedlings that will erupt in any cracks in the patio the following spring.

It is a bold grass to plant. Use your imagination. Just be aware of the population explosion the following years! Go on. I dare you! 


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