Vetiver Grass

Vetiver Grass is sold out for the season. Plugs and slips will be available by early Spring. 

If you’d like me to contact you when sales resume, please fill out the form below.


Thank You for your interest in Vetiver from The Herb Cottage. 

The name comes from “vetiver,” a Tamil word meaning “root that is dug up.” The zizanioides was given by Linnaeus in 1771 and means “by the riverside.” As you would guess, the native habitat of this grass is in low, damp sites such as swamps and bogs. In spite of that, the grass is now being used on dry hillsides to control erosion.

Vetiver, Vetiveria zizanioides,

a member of the same part of the grass family as maize, sorghum, sugar cane and lemongrass, is an ancient plant that has grown around the world to great benefit for centuries. Like many plants, however, vetiver has fallen out of fashion and become forgotten or unknown by many people.

Vetiver Section

Vetiver pontoon in pig farm ponds in Bien Hoa, Viet Nam
Vetiver plantings like this clean wastewater from pig farms, mines and even mills.

Vetiver is a clumping type grass, non-invasive.

The roots are very deep, so it’s best to decide carefully where to plant it because it is very hard to dig up. It can be grown in a container as well, for a lovely effect.

In 1989 Fort Polk in Louisiana was having a problem with erosion.

Three scenic streams came together on the base, but tanks and other military equipment was ripping up the land and causing soil and silt to fill up the natural waterways. Mike Materne, the local U.S. Soil Conservation Service agent, brought in some vetiver plants and planted them in the bare slopes above the dams that held runoff water.

In spite of the very acidic, rocky soil that contained virtually no fertility, the slips of grass began to grow. In eight weeks, some were almost 2 meters tall and in 10 weeks they had grown together into hedges. Sediment began to build up behind the hedges and the water that went down the streams into the catch ponds became clear.

It soon became clear that vetiver was acting as much more than an erosion trap: it was a “nurse plant” that was protecting other species and thereby giving these devastated watersheds a chance to heal themselves. Native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, trees and vines came crowding in behind the hedges and grew to re-vegetate the site.

Leaves of the plant are odorless, however the roots have an exquisite and long lasting scent, similar to the aroma of sandalwood. An open bowl of dried vetiver root can give off a most pleasing aroma for a very long time.The roots of the plant have been used for centuries as a source of essential oil that makes a wonderful perfume. It is also used for scenting soaps, and it is used in some countries as a flavoring in canned asparagus and sherbets.
It is the root of the plant that makes it valuable – whether for perfume or erosion control.

Vetiver produces a massive root system that grows straight down rather than out from the plant. It creates a sort of curtain beneath the soil, trapping sediment and slowing down the movement of water. Because the grass grows down instead of outward, it does not become invasive. The plants never form seeds, in fact they rarely flower, and if they do, the seed is sterile, another advantage in keeping it under control.

The above-ground plant looks much like pampas grass or lemon grass.

It is a big, coarse clumping grass that can grow to be very tall. It provides a considerable amount of biomass that can be used for mulching or composting. In many areas of the world, the grass is used for thatching roofs.

The crown of the plant is adaptable to rising soil levels.
As the sediment builds up around the plant, the crown grows upward and is not damaged by soil being piled around it.

Although vetiver goes dormant in the winter or very dry seasons, its stems and leaves stay stiff and firmly attached to the crown. This means that the plant continues to stop soil movement even though it is not actively growing.

Vetiver grass will tolerate high levels of nitrates, phosphates, heavy metals, and agricultural chemicals.

Vetiver can be used for treating wastewater, rehabilitating mine tailings, stabilizing landfills and general rubbish dumps. Vetiver takes up the toxic materials and confines the contaminates to the effected area.

Vetiver Section

Root system of 2 year old plant.

Vetiver is a tropical plant and will not survive prolonged cold winters.

Its northern limit is probably Zone 7, although given protection, mild winters and heavy mulching it will grow farther north. The other condition it will not tolerate is full shade. Dappled light is OK, as is half day sun, half day shade.

If you’re looking for a screen plant, a grass to grow in a low, boggy area, a plant for erosion control or an attractive container grass, try Vetiver. Join a world wide group of people who have discovered Vetiver and its very positive impact on horticulture, ecology and more.











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