The Vetiver Network International

Vetiver Grass – Plant Propagation


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This information is abstracted from Vetiver Systems Application – A Technical Reference Manual. Authors – Paul Truong, Tran Tan Van, and Elise Pinners. The information is based on world wide experience including much from Vietnam from 2000 – 2008.





3.1 Splitting mature plants to produce bare root slips

3.2 Propagating vetiver from plant parts

3.3 Bud multiplication or micro propagation

3.4 Tissue culture


4.1 Polybags or tube stock

4.2 Planting strip





Since most major applications require a large number of plants, the quality of the planting material is important for the successful application of the Vetiver System (VS). This requires nurseries capable of producing large quantities of high quality, low cost plant materials. The exclusive use of only sterile vetiver cultivars (C. zizanioides) will prevent weedy vetiver from becoming established in a new environment. DNA tests prove that the sterile vetiver cultivar used around the world is genetically similar to Sunshine and Monto cultivars, both of which originate in southern India. Given its sterility, this vetiver must be propagated vegetatively.


  • Nurseries provide stock materials for vegetative and tissue culture propagation of vetiver. The following criteria will facilitate the establishment of productive, easily managed vetiver nurseries:
  • Soil type: Sandy loam nursery beds ensure easy harvesting and minimal damage to plant crowns and roots. Although clay loam is acceptable, heavy clay is not.
  • Topography: Slightly sloping land avoids water-logging in case of over watering. Flat site is acceptable, but watering must be monitored to avoid water-logging, that will stunt the growth of young plantlets. Mature vetiver, however, thrives under waterlogged conditions.
  • Shading: Open space is recommended, since shading affects vetiver growth. Partially shaded areas are acceptable. Vetiver is a C4 plant and likes plenty of sun.
  • Planting layout: Vetiver should be planted in long, neat rows across the slope for easy mechanical harvesting.
  • Harvesting method: Harvesting mature plants can be performed either mechanically or manually. A machine should uproot the mature stock 20-25cm (8-10’’) lower ground. To avoid damaging the plant crown use a single blade mouldboard plough or a disc plough with special adjustment.
  • Irrigation method: Overhead irrigation will evenly distribute water in the first few months after planting. More mature plants welcome flood irrigation.
  • Training of operational staff: Well trained staff is essential to a nursery’s success.
  • Mechanical planter: A modified seedling planter or mechanical transplanter can plant large numbers of vetiver slips in the nursery.
  • Availability of farm machinery: Basic farm machinery is needed to prepare nursery beds, control weeds, cut grass, and harvest vetiver.

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Photo 1: Upper: Machine planting; lower: manual planting.


The four common ways to propagate vetiver are:

  1. Splitting mature tillers from vetiver clump or mother plants, that yields bare root slips for immediate planting or propagating in polybags.
  2. Using various parts of a mother vetiver plant.
  3. Bud multiplication or in vitro micro propagation for large scale propagation
  4. Tissue culture, using a small part of the plant to propagate on a large scale.

3.1 Splitting mature plants to produce bare root slips

Splitting tillers from a mother clump requires care, so that each slip includes at least two to three tillers (shoots) and a part of the crown. After separation, the slips should be cut back to 20 cm (8’’) length (Figure 1). The resulting bare root slips can be dipped in various treatments, including rooting hormones, manure slurry (cow or horse tea), clay mud, or simple shallow water pools, until new roots appear. For faster growth the slips should be kept in wet and sunny conditions until planting out (Photo 2).

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Figure 1: How to split vetiver slips.

3.2 Propagating vetiver from plant parts

Three parts of the vetiver plant are used for propagation (Photos 3 & 4):

  • Tillers or shoots
  • Crown (corm), the hard part of the plant between the shoots and the roots
  • Culms.

A culm is the stem or stalk of a grass. The vetiver culm is solid, stiff, and hard; it has prominent nodes with lateral buds that can form roots and shoots when exposed to moist conditions. Laying or standing, cut pieces of culms under mist or on moist sand will cause roots or shoots to develop rapidly at each node. Le Van Du, Agro-Forestry University, Ho Chi Minh City, developed the following four-step method of propagating vetiver from cuttings:

  • Prepare vetiver cuttings.
  • Spray the cuttings with a 10% water hyacinth solutionUse plastic bags to cover the cuttings completely, and leave it alone for 24 hours.
  • Dip in clay mud or manure slurry, and plant in a good bed.
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Photo 2: Bare root slips ready for planting out (left); being dipped in clay mud or manure slurry (cow tea) (right).

3.2.1 Preparing vetiver cutting

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Photo 3: Old tillers (left) and young tillers (right).

Vetiver culms:

Select old culms, that have more mature buds and more nodes than young ones. Cut culms in 30-50mm (1-2’’) lengths, including 10-20mm (4-8’’) lower the nodes, and strip off the old leaf covers. Expect new shoots to emerge about one week after planting.

Vetiver tillers:

  • Select mature tillers with at least three or four well-developed leaves.
  • Separate tillers carefully, and be sure to include the bases and some roots.

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Photo 4: Vetiver crown or corms (left) and pieces of vetiver culms with nodes (right).

Vetiver crown or corms:

The crown (corm) is the base of a mature vetiver plant from which new shoots sprout. Use only the top part of the mature crown.

3.2.2 Preparing water hyacinth solution

Water Hyacinth solution contains many hormones and growth regulators, including gibberellic acid and many Indol-Acetic compounds (IAA). To prepare rooting hormone from Water Hyacinth:

  • Remove Water Hyacinth plants from lakes or canals.
  • Put plants into 20 litre plastic bag, and tie it closed.
  • Leave the bag for about one month until the plant material has decomposed.
  • Discard the solid parts and keep only the solution.
  • Strain the solution and maintain in a cool place until use.

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Photo 5: Spraying cuttings with 10% water hyacinth solution (left) and cover cuttings completely with plastic bags, and leave them for 24 hours (right).

3.2.3 Treatment and planting

3.2.4 Advantages of using bare root slips and culm slips


  • Efficient, economic, and a quick way to prepare the planting material.
  • Small volume results in lower transportation cost.
  • Easy to plant by hand.
  • Large numbers can be mechanically planted in large areas.


  1. Vulnerable to drying and extreme temperatures.
  2. Limited on-site storage time.
  3. Requires planting in moist soil.
  4. Needs frequent irrigation in the first few weeks.
  5. Recommended for good nursery sites with easy access to irrigation.

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Photo 6: Plant with manure, in a good nursery bed.

3.3 Bud multiplication or micro propagation

Dr. Le Van Be of Can Tho University, Can Tho City, Vietnam has developed a very practical and simple method to multiply buds (Lê Van Bé et al, 2006). His protocol consists of four micro-propagation stages, all in liquid medium:

  • Inducing lateral bud development.
  • Multiplying new shoots.
  • Promoting root development on new shoots.
  • Promoting growth in shade house or glasshouse.

3.4 Tissue culture

Tissue culture is another way to propagate vetiver planting materials in quantity, using special tissues (root tip, young flower inflorescence, nodal bud tissues) of the vetiver plant. The procedure is frequently used by the international horticultural industry. Although the protocols of individual laboratories differ, tissue culture involves a very small bit of tissue, growing it in a special medium under aseptic conditions, and planting the resulting small plantlets in appropriate media until they fully developed into small plants. More details are found in Truong (2006).


To increase the establishment rate under hostile conditions, when the plantlets produced by the Upper methods are mature enough or bare root slips are ready, they can be prepared for planting out by:

  • polybags or tubestock.
  • planting strip.

4.1 Polybags or tube stock

Plantlets and bare root slips are planted in small pots or small plastic bags containing half soil and half potting mix and maintained in the containers for three to six weeks, depending on the temperature. When at least three new tillers (shoots) appear, the plantlets are ready to be planted.

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Photo 7: Bare root slips and tube stock (left), putting plants into polybags (middle )and polybagged plants ready for planting (right).

4.2 Planting strip

Planting strips are a modified form of polybags. Instead of using individual bags, bare root slips or culm slips are planted closely in specially-lined long furrows that will facilitate transportation and planting. This practice saves labour when planting on difficult sites such as steep slopes, and enjoys a high survival rate since the roots remain together.

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Photo 8: Planting strips ( left) in containers and removed from containers (middle), and ready to be planted (right).

4.2.1 Advantages and disadvantages of polybags and planting strips


  • Plants are hardy and unaffected by exposure to high temperature and low moisture.
  • Lower irrigation frequency after planting.
  • Faster establishment and growth after planting.
  • Can remain on site for longer before being planted.
  • Recommended for harsh and hostile conditions.


  • More expensive to produce.
  • Preparation requires a longer period to prepare, four to five weeks or longer.
  • Transporting large volume and increased weight is expensive.
  • Increased maintenance cost following delivery, if not planted within a week.


Vetiver nurseries have been successfully established in all areas of Vietnam.

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Photo 9: In the south, left: Can Tho University; right: An Giang province.

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Photo 10: In the centre south, in Quang Ngai (left) and Binh Phuoc (right).

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Photo 11: In the north, in Bac Ninh (left) and Bac Giang (right).


Charanasri U., Sumanochitrapan S., and Topangteam S. (1996). Vetiver grass: Nursery development, field planting techniques, and hedge management. Unpublished paper presented at Proc. First International Vetiver Conf., Thailand, 4-8 February 1996.

Lê Văn Bé, Võ Thanh Tân, Nguyễn Thị Tố Uyên.(2006). Nhân Giong Co Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides). Regional Vetiver conference, Can Tho University, Can Tho, Vietnam.

Lê Văn Bé, Võ Thanh Tân, Nguyễn Thị Tố Uyên (2006). Low cost micro-propagation of vetiver grass Proc. Fourth International Vetiver Conference, Caracas, Venezuela, October 2006.

Murashige T., and Skoog F. (1962) A revised medium for rapid growth and bio assays with tobacco tissue cultures. Physiologia Plantarum 15: 473-497.

Namwongprom K., and Nanakorn M. (1992). Clonal propagation of vetiver in vitro. In: Proc. 30th Ann. Conf. on Agric., 29 Jan-1 Feb 1992 (in Thailand).

Sukkasem A. and Chinnapan W. (1996). Tissue culture of vetiver grass. In: Abstracts of papers presented at Proc. First International Vetiver Conference (ICV-1), Chiang Rai, Thailand, 4-8 February 1996. p. 61, ORDPB, Bangkok.

Truong, P. (2006). Vetiver Propagation: Nurseries and Large Scale Propagation. Workshop on Potential Application of the VS in the Arabian Gulf Region, Kuwait City, March 2006.