Hierochloe odorata

Sweet Grass



3 Pack
Out of Stock
Tray of 50
Out of Stock

Sweet Grass 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 burn Sweet Grass in ceremonies to invite the presence of good spirits. We have these incense braids available seasonally. The Dakota name for Sweet Grass is Wachanga; Omaha is Pezhezonsta; Winnebago is Manuska; and the Pawnee name is Kataru. Other scientific names in use are Torresia odorada and Savastana odorada.

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. The preferred pH range is 6 to 8.

The natural range of Sweet Grass is Greenland to Alaska, south to New Jersey, Ohio, Iowa and Arizona. It can be found in all parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and the northern third of Illinois.

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Potted 3-Packs May/June September 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots
Potted Trays of 50 May/June N/A 2" wide x 5" deep plugs

Hierochloe odorata - Sweet Grass

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

9 Questions asked on Hierochloe odorata

How far down deep would you recommend a barrier to keep Sweetgrass' rhizatomous roots from spreading into area where I have other plants? Thanks.
Thanks for writing, Karen. A subsurface barrier 8-12” deep would be advisable. Most sources recommend that the barrier extend a couple of inches above the ground to contain spreading there.
I live in a townhouse and am wondering if I may have a small bit of this in a container on my front porch. Don't have a big garden space anymore. Would it do well?
Hi Linda. It may do fine for one season, but long term we don't advise keeping many perennial natives in pots. Sweet Grass is extremely rhizomatous - it will want to spread everywhere so the having it contained to a small space like that will start to affect its health.
Does this grow well in Denver Colorado? I am looking for a sturdy grass like plant I can grow, to make my own decorations (something akin to the braids you sell)
Hi Mary, Sweet Grass is native to the state of Colorado. Given adequate soil moisture and sun exposure, you should have good luck establishing this grass. Once established this grass will spread by underground rhizomes. Thanks!
Like Linda, i am also interested in growing this in a pot with the understanding it would last only one season. What size pot would i need?
Hi Christine! If you got a 3.5" deep pot in Spring, like the size we currently sell, I think it could take a quart or even a gallon easily. It very well could overwinter just fine in a pot. It depends on the size, soil, and care given so we never want to guarantee a perennial native to thrive in a pot long term.
How is germination of seeds done?
Hi Rita, Although it is technically possible to grow Sweet Grass from seed, it’s not the plant’s preferred reproductive method. Sweet Grass prefers to spread vegetatively, from its roots. We recommend starting with a few live plants for best results.

If you are going to try to start seed, note the Germination Code is C(30). For more on Germination Codes and Instructions, check out this informative BLOG.

If this is planted in an area that is already dense with established native flowers, will it outcompete them eventually?
Hi Amanda, If the area is already dense and well-established, the Sweet Grass probably won't completely take over. However, it still may spread and mingle with your other plants. If you aren't ok with that, I would avoid planting it in that area.
How would this plant do in central Kansas? The native area shown on the map stops abruptly at the state line, which made me wonder- thanks!
Hi Scott, What you are seeing on the map is that it is present in neighboring states, but not KS. If you look at the counties, it does not stop abruptly. It is only present in one little county in NE, and pretty much limited to the mountains in CO. I think it will grow fine for you in KS, but based on its native range, may need a little extra care in the dry summer heat. Please note that this plant is also an aggressive spreader, and may still be aggressive in your area.
I am very excited to have just received my sweet grass plants from you, 9/1. I am wondering if I should put them in the ground now or keep them indoors until spring before I plant outside?
Hi Andrea, We recommend planting all of our live plants outdoors as soon as you feasibly can upon receiving them. The Sweet Grass will slowly go dormant this fall, but come back fine in the spring.
How quickly does sweetgrass spread? I am removing some invasives from my land and there will be a mostly bare bank along a sometimes wet low area where rain and snowmelt run off. The bank is not steep so erosion should not be an issue unless we have torrential rains. Would it be advisable to plant a cover crop along with the sweetgrass and if so what would you recommend? Also, once established and happily spreading, might it act as a deterrent for any returning invasives? Currently removing wild parsley, honeysuckle and some tiny multi-floral rose.
Hi Sarah. Sweetgrass spreads readily and steadily once it's established in an ideal site. Those invasive species are quite resilient, though; they would need to be thoroughly removed from the site before sowing the Sweetgrass. A cover crop would be beneficial, especially if starting from seed. Installing bare root or plant plugs would provide faster establishment. Although the Sweetgrass is not likely to out-compete those aggressive weeds while it is acclimating to its site, but this native will exclude most weedy species after it fills in.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Wet, Medium-Wet, Medium
2 feet
Bloom Time
May, June, July
Deer Resistant
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code