Along with many others many thanks to Agriflora Tropical in Puerto Rico for sharing their knowledge with the rest of the world. Here is a link to their very informative website. http://agrifloratropicals.com/
The photos above are just fun photos taken with a D800 Nikon with a Lensbaby fisheye lens.
Here is another amazing story about this incredible plant. See the photos below. We shipped 100 plants to a client in Portugal. After the plants did not arrive in two weeks or so we shipped another 100 slips as replacements. 5 weeks later the first shipment arrived! These are photos of the plants that were in a box for 5 weeks! They were growing new white roots and some were inches long. This shows how resilient these plants are. An unplanned experiment but something good for us all to know. Anyone should be able to grow these plants. They are next to impossible to kill.
Below are 4 photos of another amazing story of the hardiness of Vetiver. These were shipped to a client in Latvia. 3 weeks in a box! The client sent these photos after receiving the shipment. They are really hard to kill. Notice all of the new white root growth that are actually growing through the damp newspaper that we use when shipping to hold in the moisture during their trip to you.
Now that you have purchased your Vetiver plants you are probably wondering what to do with them? Questions like, how do I plant them and how do I maintain them going forward? They were either delivered to you or you picked them up at our nursery in Sayalonga, Spain. If they were shipped to you they will have made the trip in a cardboard box. Like any new plant, they need a few days of gentle care to adapt to their new home's climate, altitude and soil condition. It is really simple. Actually easier than any other plant, flower, tree or vegetable that we have had experience with. After extensive research and experimentation we have come up with some helpful instructions for you.
One thing that we have learned is that people treat Vetiver as you would any other plant. Most people plant most plants and trees in the fall. This is not true with Vetiver. We all must remember that Vetiver is indigenous to India where it is called Khus or Khus Khus. We have found that in our location in Sayalonga at 500 metres elevation we can plant all year round but the best time is late March when the temperatures are above 10C. Water them and then they love the heat of the summer. You can get 2 metres tall plants in 5-6 months. You can click on these links to look at the "Growth", "Planting" and the "Time Lapse" pages for samples of when they were planted and the follow up photos during the growth cycle.
When you first bring them home:
If they came to you in a box, the Vetiver slips have been cut to fit the box and reduce moisture loss from evaporation. They will grow back rapidly once they are in pots, a bucket of water or in the ground. They survive well and will last ages in water that is changed every few days and they will also show new signs of growth. You will see many new small white roots. Adding a liquid fertilizer is not necessary but if you want to it will not hurt them and may speed up the root propagation. We really don't see a difference with or without fertilizer. If you want the best use a common liquid lawn fertilizer that can be bought inexpensively almost anywhere. We have also found out that placing them in water can even save plants with no roots. If you go to the "Photo Gallery" page of the website you can see where we have put supposedly dead slips in water and waited for a week while changing the water halfway through the period and you can see all the new white roots. This grass is extremely hardy. We have learned one thing from this, never, ever throw away a suspected dead plant. Give it water and give it time. You might be surprised.
When you first start planting:
When used to prevent erosion, the plants should be planted in rows with a separation of 15-30 cm (center to center) depending on the level of your erosion problem. Plant them evenly with the existing soil surface. Do not change the soil to something that you do not expect them to live in forever. Multiple rows may be required for complete coverage. The separation between rows will depend on the slope, soil type, and present soil condition. Typically, row separation ranges from one to two meters in moderate to steep slopes. Visit these linked pages for more examples of different slopes on our land. "Photo Gallery" "Growth"
Keep the plants well irrigated until they adapt to their new location and become established, usually about 3-4 months. Also we do suggest that you use a mulch to keep the soil moist and keep the weeds down. You will also need less water as it slows evaporation. If you already have Vetiver cut them back and use that as mulch. That is what we do. After saying that, if you want them to remain their lovely green color water them whenever you see them going brownish. They make great hedges. Do not worry when you see them turn brown. Below the surface it is where everything is happening. Like any plant they do go through the initial transplant shock. The only time we see plant failure is from lack of water. So to protect your long term investment water, water, and water until established. We use a test hole every few days between the plants to make sure the ground is saturated below the surface and down into the root system. If it is not extend the watering time. This is the only thing is critical. These plants have a lifespan of over 100 years. Oldest recorded is 150 years.
We have also found that fireplace ashes, burned foliage ashes etc. are really beneficial to the plants. Go to our "Growth" page and take a look at an example of planting with ash. See the photo highlighted in blue. This photo shows a line of Vetiver being planted with and without ash. The next one is the Vetiver planted with no ash. The third one has ash added to the soil.
After 3 or 4 months:
Check for gaps in the rows and, if necessary, fill them by adding additional plants. Always remember that what goes on below the surface is the most important. In most cases each bunch or clump will expand to fill in the empty spots.
If you want you can start with a moderate fertilization program using a commercial lawn fertilizer or 16-16-16. On our first planting we applied water for the first three months but used no fertilizer at all for 3 years. We stopped watering after 3 months and the plants were not watered for 3 years until we started to harvest them. We also notice that using simple aspirin in the water helps with the root growth. See the link below for Willow water. Aspirin is derived from the bark of the Willow tree. After experimenting we have seen accelerated root development and clump multiplication by keeping the grass blades cut back to about 30 cm.
In about 6 months and going forwards:
Your plants should be well established by now and the gaps between the plants should be closing. Root depth should be enough to provide a moderate degree of soil stabilization. Full development of the root system will be completed by the end of the second year and then it is considered an adult plant.
Maintain a regular fertilization plan according to the manufactures directions and an irrigation program if the plants are part of your landscaped areas or ignore them and they will survive but will not remain a vibrant green but will turn a nice brownish purple. Even then it is still a pleasant looking plant. Water is only required for the first few months and then the root systems are so deep that they are on their own. In rough terrains, plants will adapt to very extreme weather and soil conditions. For those who would like a totally natural root enhancer you can use Willow Water.
Here is a link to how to make it. For the Permaculture information, special thanks to the Deep Green Permaculture website. Click on the link below.
Telephone: 34 692 288 657
Ask for David