How to Grow Squirreltail


Squirreltail is a perennial grass that grows 1 to 2 feet tall during the winter months, with leaf blades that resemble a squirrel's tail. It is common along roadsides and ditches, and is often referred to as a weed. It is frequently grown in fields where animals graze. Squirreltail is also known as foxtail barley, and its scientific name is Hordeum jubatum. It grows in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8.

Step 1

Plant squirreltail seeds in the spring, just before the last frost. You can also plant them in the fall, but do not expect the grass to grow until the next season.

Step 2

Choose an area that is in full sun. While squirreltail can grow in most soil types, it thrives in soil that is poorly-drained, and drier soils that are usually flooded or consistently moist during the spring months.

Step 3

Till the soil about 1 inch deep. Spread the seeds liberally on the ground. Cover the bristly seeds with a thin layer of soil so animals do not eat them, which can cause health problems, including digestive irritation and sometimes death.

Step 4

Water the seeds well. Keep the ground moist for the first several weeks.

Step 5

Thin seedlings as they begin to sprout if growing in a garden as ornamental grass. A couple of blades clumped together every foot or so will result in aesthetically-pleasing clumps of winter-growing grasses.


  • Utah State University
  • Barley, Foxtail / Squirrel Tail (Hordeum jubatum)
Keywords: foxtail barley, Hordeum Jubatum, foxtail

About this Author

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.