Vanilla Sweet Grass, Hierocloë odorata

Vanilla Sweet Grass

Hierocloë odorata

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Summer
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Moist, Medium
Color: Green, Yellow, Straw
Fragrance: Yes
Height: 1 to 2 feet
Spacing: 1 foot


Vanilla Sweet Grass (Hierocloë odorata) is an aromatic, cool-season perennial growing 10-24 inches in height and spreading about 2 feet per year by underground rhizomes. Because of its aggressive, rhizomatous nature it can be difficult to eliminate if it has spread to areas where it is not wanted. Pick a planting site with this in mind. Despite this vigor once established, Sweet Grass can be difficult to grow from seed, so we recommend trying a few plants and dividing them after a few years.

Many North American indigenous cultures burned Sweet Grass in ceremonies to invite the presence of good spirits. The Dakota name for Sweet Grass is Wachanga; Omaha is Pezhezonsta; Winnebago is Manuska; and the Pawnee name is Kataru.

Its natural habitat is wetlands, prairies, and savannas in wet to medium moisture soils. Though Sweet Grass prefers rich, moist soils, it will grow in almost any soil that receives a minimum of a half day of sun. Sandy, well-drained sites will require mulch and watering during times of low rainfall. Add compost to sand or clay soils.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  A sacred grass in Native American ceremonies,
  The glossy leaves have a pleasant vanilla fragrance.
Further Information

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