Q: I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to grow sweetgrass, Hierochloe odorata. I have tried to follow the plant seller’s instructions but have not had any luck.
A: There are two kinds of sweetgrass. One, Hierochloe odorata, is native to the Midwest, Northeast and Canada. Native Americans used it to perfume their basketry and ornaments. Since the native range is so far north of Georgia, I think that this is why you’re having problems: it doesn’t like our summer heat or clay soil. The other sweetgrass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, is also known as purple muhly grass. It is native to the Southeast and has been woven into baskets by many generations of coastal South Carolinians. If you want basketmaking materials, stick to muhly grass. If you need material for spiritual medicine, visit North Dakota, where sweetgrass grows profusely.
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