How to Grow Northern Sweetgrass

Sweet grass grows wild in northern climates. image by SriMesh/Creative Commons

Overview

Northern sweet grass (Hierochloe hirta) is a perennial grass that grows in northern climates in both the eastern and western hemispheres. It derives its name from the sweet vanilla-like aroma emitted from the drying grass. Native Americans use sweet grass in ornamental baskets and crafts, as well as, braided and burned in religious ceremonies to evoke good powers. It spreads by underground rhizomes creeping to new areas each year. It produces few seeds, which are often infertile, and is best started by plant divisions.

Step 1

Purchase plant divisions from a reputable nursery. Plants generally arrive in plastic bags with peat moss or soil.

Step 2

Remove plants from the bag and soak the root ball in warm water for a minute or two to revive the roots.

Step 3

Plant each sweet grass plant in all-purpose potting soil in an 8-inch plant pot. Water to thoroughly moisten soil and place in a sheltered location outside for one week.

Step 4

Move pots to morning sun for several days, gradually increasing the amount of sun. Sweet grass grown in northern climates tolerates full sun for the majority of the day, but those grown in southern climates require protection from hot afternoon sun. Adjust as necessary.

Step 5

Plant in a permanent location once the grass fills the pot. Sweet grass grows quickly and will fill the pot in 8 to 10 weeks.

Step 6

Keep soil evenly moist, as sweet grass is not drought tolerant. Northern sweet grass requires supplemental watering in hot dry areas or periods of drought.

Step 7

Fertilize with a balanced lawn fertilizer every 30 to 60 days during periods of active growth.

Things You'll Need

  • 8-inch plant pots
  • All-purpose potting soil
  • Balanced lawn fertilizer

References

  • USDA Fact Sheets
  • Eco Seeds
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services

Who Can Help

  • About Sweet Grass
Keywords: sweet grass, northern sweet grass, Hierochloe hirta

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

Photo by: SriMesh/Creative Commons