When to Harvest Sweetgrass
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Jeff
Posted on: February 13, 2004

I just ordered some sweetgrass seeds. When and how do I harvest the grass to use it for smudging? I know, I am being little optimistic on my success!!

First, it must be stated that sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) has a natural inability to produce abundant viable seeds. For genetic reasons pollination fails most of the time and the majority of seeds that are produced are sterile. In our experience only 5% to 10% of seeds will germinate. And germination can be sporadic, taking 6-8 weeks to complete, with one or two seedlings appearing at a time.

Fortunately, sweetgrass makes up for its flagging virility by producing numerous underground rhizomes that spread out radially. In time a single plant grown from a viable seed can generate hundreds and even thousands of plants.

It will take a year before your sweetgrass patch is big enough to harvest from. The first year you can harvest a few leaves; but it is better to wait until the second year when your clump has firmly established itself in your garden.

The leaves are harvested anytime in the summer or fall months when 30-60cm /1-2ft tall.


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