Vetiver is a perennial clumping grass used around the world in permaculture, regenerative gardens and for soil erosion and stabilization. 

About Vetiver

Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides), often referred to as the “wonder grass,” is a resilient and effective plant for landscaping purposes. It is particularly effective in preventing soil erosion and for stabilizing slopes. Its dense root system helps bind soil particles together, making it a great choice for erosion-prone areas. Below is essential information on how to properly install and care for vetiver slips to ensure a healthy and thriving installation and landscape.

Site Selection

Before you install vetiver, determine the appropriate site for planting vetiver slips, considering soil conditions, sunlight, and water availability. Vetiver is known for its adaptability to a wide range of soil types, which makes it a versatile choice for landscaping and erosion control. However, it does have some preferences when it comes to soil conditions. Here are the key characteristics that vetiver prefers:

Well-Drained Soil: Vetiver prefers well-drained soil that doesn’t retain excessive moisture. It can tolerate short periods of flooding but does best in soils with good drainage.

pH Level: Vetiver thrives in soils with a slightly acidic to neutral pH range of 6.0 to 7.5. It can tolerate a wider pH range but may not perform as well in extremely acidic or alkaline soils.

Sandy Loam or Loamy Soil: Vetiver grows best in sandy loam or loamy soils, which provide good aeration, root penetration, and nutrient retention. These soil types allow for healthy root development.

Organic Matter: While vetiver can tolerate low-fertility soils, it benefits from soils with adequate organic matter content. Adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, can improve soil structure and nutrient availability.

Salinity Tolerance: Vetiver has moderate tolerance to salinity, making it suitable for soils with low to moderate salt levels. However, it may struggle in highly saline soils.

Soil Preparation: Before planting vetiver slips, it’s a good practice to conduct a soil test to assess the pH, nutrient levels, and any soil deficiencies. Depending on the results, you may need to amend the soil with lime or specific nutrients to optimize growth. Be sure to clear the area of installation of weeds and debris.

Sun Exposure: Vetiver thrives in full sun. It does not thrive in significant shade. (Reference)

USDA Zones: Vetiver grows most favorably in USDA Zones 9 – 11.

Remember that vetiver is a hardy and resilient plant, so it can adapt to less-than-ideal soil conditions to some extent. However, providing it with the preferred soil conditions will lead to healthier and more vigorous growth, especially if you want to maximize its erosion control and landscaping benefits.


Dig planting holes approximately 2 to 3 feet apart.

Please note that other sources indicate planting vetiver about 6 to 12 inches apart. This is the planting recommendation to achieve shear strength needed for significant hillside stability. However for most homeowners, depending on purpose of use, you may be able to plant a slip every 2 to 3 feet – as at maturity vetiver will grow to 4 to 6 feet high and around 2 to 3 feet wide. If you are using vetiver for a major hillside, soil erosion or commercial project, please consult your landscape architect for strength, shear and tensile calculations to determine an appropriate planting distance for your project. We recommend erring on the side of more, rather than less vetiver, if you are trying to achieve a dense hedge with no space between each plant.

Plant vetiver slips vertically, burying them 2-4 inches deep.

Water thoroughly after planting.

Drip irrigation is recommended in all but the rainiest areas (i.e., Hawaii). Until the slip has established (6 to 12 months), keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Here are some watering tips for this period:

  • Water the vetiver slips immediately after planting to settle the soil around the roots.
  • Water deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth. A thorough soaking every 7-10 days, depending on weather conditions, is typically sufficient. If you have planted vetiver in the heat of the summer, increase this watering to 2x/week – but focus on deep watering!
  • Monitor the soil moisture level regularly. Stick your finger into the soil about 2-3 inches deep, and water when it feels dry at that depth.


Remember that proper care and maintenance are key to the success of your vetiver landscaping project. Vetiver grass is known for its drought-tolerant nature, but it still requires adequate water. Here’s a general guideline for watering vetiver slips once established:

1. Watering Mature Plants (After Establishment): Once vetiver is well-established (usually after the first year), it becomes more drought-tolerant and requires less maintenance. Specific watering requirements may vary depending on your local climate, soil type, and individual site conditions. Regular monitoring of soil moisture and adjusting your watering schedule accordingly will help ensure the health and vitality of your vetiver plants.

  • Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Vetiver prefers well-drained soil and can tolerate periods of drought.
  • Water as needed during extended dry spells or when you notice signs of drought stress, such as wilting or browning leaves.
  • Deep, infrequent watering is still a good practice, as it encourages the development of a deep root system that helps the plant access water from deeper soil layers.
  • Adapt your watering schedule based on your local climate conditions. If you live in an area with regular rainfall, you may need to water less frequently. Conversely, in arid or drought-prone regions, more frequent watering may be necessary.
  • Take into account natural rainfall. Vetiver can often thrive with minimal supplemental watering if your region receives adequate rainfall, particularly during the establishment phase.
  • Be cautious not to overwater, as soggy soil can lead to root rot and other issues. Always ensure that the soil has proper drainage.

2. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the vetiver plants can help retain soil moisture and reduce the need for frequent watering. (Cut vetiver can be used as mulch, using the “chop-and-drop” method.

3. Trimming: Before trimming, let your vetiver plants grow at least a year. Using manual or powered hedge trimmers or garden lopers, you can give your vetiver a haircut, leaving at least 2 to 3 feet of material on the plant. Gather up the cuttings and use in your garden for mulch. Trimming will encourage root development and dense, rapid growth.


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Vetiver Installation Guide

Vetiver Planting Guide


Vetiver FAQ



If you are interested in purchasing vetiver slips or rooted 1 gallon plants, please email us.