Hierochloe odorata ‘Sweet Grass’
Sweet grass gets its name from its lovely sweet-smelling fragrance.
A beautiful perennial with slender, glossy green leaves. It can grow 12-20” tall with the leaves ¼” wide at maturity. It is easily distinguished by its deep reddish-purple color at the base of the plant. It flowers early for a grass (between May and August) and when in bloom, the inflorescence is an open, golden-brown panicle up to 4” long, bearing an arrangement of three flowered spikelets.
Sweet grass is native to both northern North America and Eurasia. Its primary habitat is wetlands, meadows, prairies, and the edges of woods, bogs, and marshes. It rarely grows in pure stands and is almost always found in the company of other grasses and shrubs.
A peek at the reddish-purple color at the base of the stem (pictured above)
Because its natural habitat is in moist ground shores, it prefers rich, moist soil. The soil should be well-draining and kept moist, but not saturated. Plant in full-sun or partial shade.
It spreads by creeping rhizomes and a single plug can spread to cover a square foot of ground in a year. Its fast-growing nature makes it useful in wetland or riparian restoration and erosion control. Because of its ability to spread prolifically, it can also be considered moderately invasive so this is important to keep in mind when deciding on a location for planting. Sweet grass makes a lovely container plant, so this is a good option to have more control over the spread of the grass.
It is extremely cold hardy. In colder weather, the plant will grow dormant and once temperatures reach 40°F, it will begin to resprout. It is deer resistant and attracts birds when in bloom.
Sweet grass moves beautifully in the wind and has an incredible glossy shine on its leaves.
Sweet grass played a very important role in Native American rituals and ceremonies. When the plant begins to dry, it develops a sweet, vanilla-like fragrance which the Native Americans braided and burned as incense. It was also used for handicrafts like basket weaving.
This graceful, yet robust grass has a lot of cultural significance as well as classic beauty and would make a wonderful addition to your garden.
We are currently growing Hierocholoe odorata ‘Sweet Grass’ in 4.5” rounds and gallon containers.