How to Grow Rattlesnake Grass


Rattlesnake grass (Briza media) is an upright, clumping ornamental grass. Soft green leaves are semi-evergreen, which means they will remain green during the winter in areas with mild weather. The blades of grass grow 18 to 24 inches tall and spread 12 inches wide. Showy beige flowers appear in the summer and fall. These small, heart-shaped blossoms quiver in the smallest breeze. Rattlesnake grass grows well in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 8. This ornamental grass is used as groundcover, specimen plantings, perennial backgrounds in gardens and with dried flowers.

Step 1

Choose a planting site in full sun. Rattlesnake grass tolerates light shade but will flower poorly. Check to make sure the location provides the grass with room to grow to its mature size.

Step 2

Loosen the soil with a shovel to a depth of 12 inches. Break the soil clods up with the edge of a garden hoe. Spread a 3-inch layer of manure or compost on the soil. Mix this amendment into the loose soil.

Step 3

Dig a hole the same depth as the root ball. Place the rattlesnake grass in the hole and firm the soil in around it. Do not plant the grass deeper than it had already been growing.

Step 4

Water the rattlesnake grass well. Check the soil every week and water when the surface is dry. In hot weather, water every day or the grass will go dormant. Rattlesnake grass is a cool-season grass that stops growing in hot weather.

Step 5

Cut away the old, dried flower spikes with a sharp pair of shears at the end of summer. This will encourage the grass to send up more blooms and prevent the grass from self-seeding.

Step 6

Cut rattlesnake grass to 2 or 3 inches from the crown in early spring. Removing the old foliage before new growth begins encourages the grass to grow vigorously.

Tips and Warnings

  • Rattlesnake grass may appear weedy when used as a border. This grass can creep into flower beds and gardens if not controlled with yearly pruning.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel Garden hoe Manure Rattlesnake grass Water Shears


  • University of Illinois Extension—Ornamental Grass: Rattlesnake Grass
  • Smithsonian Institute: Ornamental Grasses Fact Sheet
  • Agri Life: Quaking Grass
  • Missouri Botanical Garden: Briza Media
Keywords: rattlesnake grass planting, growing rattlesnake grass, Briza media

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.