Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Vetiver Root, Khus Khus
Chrysopogon zizanioides

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Chrysopogon
Species: zizanioides (ziz-an-ee-OY-deez) (Info)

Synonym:Anatherum zizanioides
Synonym:Andropogon odoratus
Synonym:Andropogon zizanioides
Synonym:Phalaris zizanioides
Synonym:Vetiveria zizanioides

7 members have or want this plant for trade.

Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:
Unknown - Tell us

Grown for foliage
Good Fall Color

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us


5 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive zimbaasha On Dec 13, 2014, zimbaasha from Mount Pleasant, SC wrote:

I planted this grass around my pond to stop erosion. It has become one of my favorite plants - no fuss and pleasing look throughout the year.

Positive sadele On May 1, 2012, sadele from Sag Harbor, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:

I have vetiver growing in a pot that I bring inside for the winter (zone 7a) and put near a south-facing window. Got it from 2-3 years ago. It's in a pot that gives it about 15" for the roots, but is probably root-bound. The crown is about 6" across; the longest blades over 7 ft tall tho bent so they're not nearing the ceiling. I keep it moist year-round. Will bring it outside this week for the season and divide and repot either into deeper pot that I can still carry and/or trim the roots. So far I haven't gotten any flowerheads -- don't know if my strain is sterile or fertile.

Positive jomoncon On Aug 1, 2010, jomoncon from New Orleans, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Vetiver has been used for centuries not only for erosion control, but for it's fragrant roots. The roots are harvested, dried and used for its amazing, subtle scent. I had a large pot that I harvested each fall and used the roots to scent my closet. A hint if you'll be harvesting the roots: Use a plastic pot. The roots are so tenacious that they will go into the walls of a terracotta pot. And don't be afraid to take an axe or a saw to overgrown roots. The plant will come back healthier than ever.

However, Katrina flooding destroyed my lovely vetiver, along with the rest of my garden. I really need to get some more.

Positive katiebear On May 19, 2010, katiebear from mulege
Mexico wrote:

I bought some of these plants from It is the only plant she sells. Some of the plants I got were already big enough to divide. They are all growing well. See the website for an incredible picture of the roots of one plant. Highly recommended for tropical or subtropical locations, especially for erosion control.

Positive isom On Jul 27, 2009, isom from Mission BC
Canada (Zone 8b) wrote:

I haven't grown this grass but would love to give it a try. I'm adding the positive note for the wonderful qualities it has. As already mentioned by careyjane, it is excellent to use for controlling soil erosion. So well known is it, that this method of holding soil from erosion & heavy rain runoff is called the Vetiver System!!

However, the reason I'd like to grow it is for its roots if wisely harvested. The roots can highly fragrant when dried & since they grow downwards, are long. In India, the roots are loosely woven into mats & hung in doorways during hot weather. Then, they're sprayed with water & the evaporation cools the room while imparting a lovely scent to the home.

The oil extracted from the roots forms the base notes to a great many expensive perfumes. The fragrance is rich, earthy without smelling like dirt or roots. It's similar to freshly mown hay but lighter & sweeter. Years ago, I had a small vial of khus-khus oil (the Indian name for the plant) that I've never forgotten & tried to find again - but with no luck.

The essential oil vertiver (I've seen it spelled both ways) that's sold in health food & aromatherapy stores is nothing like the oil I had. It smells cheap & rather unpleasant to me despite the stores' assurances that it's genuine. It's one reason I'd like to grow the grass itself to have my own roots although I wouldn't try to distill them. Besides, I love the look of tall unusual grasses in a garden setting.

Neutral careyjane On Sep 3, 2007, careyjane from Rabat
Morocco wrote:

This seems to be the most amazing plant: it is useful in erosion control, water purification, planting on public waste landfill sites and many other things too. Its roots are very deep -- up to 1.5m -- and it resists methane gas in dumping grounds, salty water and soil.

Being sterile, it is not invasive, but can live for 100 years in the same place, forming hedges which prevent erosion, stop topsoil and water from being lost from sloping sites. On top of that it is very attractive and takes on a burgundy red glow when in flower. With it's leaves chopped off straight across the top, it forms a zen, very architectural plant.

I am enamoured with it and hope to explore its many possibilities in the future.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Merritt Island, Florida
New Orleans, Louisiana (2 reports)
Opelousas, Louisiana
Slaughter, Louisiana
Saint Louis, Missouri
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

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