In this post, you’ll learn everything about planting, growing, and harvesting lemongrass. Continue reading to know all about lemongrass care!
Lemongrass is a herb that’s used commonly in Thai cuisines and herbal teas to add flavor. As it isn’t readily available at stores, it makes sense to grow lemongrass to have a fresh supply at hand. Lemongrass care is not difficult; in fact, it’s one of the easiest herbs you can grow. So, without any further ado, here is how to grow lemongrass.
Botanical Name: Cymbopogon citratus
Preparation for Growing Lemongrass
You can propagate lemongrass by seeds, stem cutting, or division, from which division is the most common way of propagation. You can get lemongrass from a nursery, Asian grocery store, or it wouldn’t hurt to enquire from the neighborhood.
Propagation from Seeds: Get the seeds from a nursery or any online gardening store. Sprinkle the seeds over the ground with 6 inches of space between them and cover them lightly with soil. Make sure to keep the soil consistently moist to facilitate germination. Once the seeds germinate in 2-3 weeks, thin out the seedlings and space them 12-15 inches apart, or you can transplant seedlings to a different location or container.
Propagation by Cutting: Take a cutting of around 5 cm from the top of pre-existing lemongrass and place it in a glass of clean water. It’s a good practice to remove any dead or almost dead part from the cutting. Within a couple of weeks, roots will start to sprout from the bottom of the pot. Transplant the rooted lemongrass into a pot or ground.
Propagation by Division: Dig out the lemongrass plant and cut back the grass so that only 2-3 inches of grass and root is left. Now divide the slips into sections of 5-6 inches in a manner that both roots and crown remain intact. Plant these divisions in small pots or directly in the ground.
It takes around a week for the roots to form in water but wait for 3-4 weeks till the root system has become strong enough. Dig the hole of around half an inch deep and transplant the lemongrass in the pot or the garden once the roots start to form. A strong root system ensures that the lemongrass will continue to grow and remain healthy after transplanting. Make sure there isn’t any danger of frost before transplanting lemongrass in the backyard.
Growing Lemongrass in a Pot
Growing lemongrass in a pot is ideal for those who live in cold regions. You can bring the pot indoors when the temperature falls below freezing, or there is a threat of frost. Also, as lemongrass spreads and covers up the garden space, it makes sense to grow lemongrass in a container to keep it contained. In the indoor space, make sure to choose a spot that is warm and receives plenty of sunlight. Even better to place the pot on the patio, balcony, or backyard as the lemongrass thrives in full sun. Choose a container around 10-12 inches in diameter and depth as the container fills up quickly. Also, the container must have drainage holes at the bottom. Go for a large container if you are planning to have multiple plants in a single pot.
Requirements for Growing Lemongrass
Growing lemongrass is easy and fun if you take location, soil, and water into account. Take note of these requirements for growing lemongrass, and you’ll be rewarded with a bountiful harvest.
Lemongrass loves to bask in the sun so locate the plant at a spot where it receives full sun. Yes, lemongrass will grow in the indoor space, but the flavor and growth won’t be as good as in the full sun. When choosing a spot in the indoor space, place the pot on a sunny windowsill or balcony. It’s advisable to bring the pot outdoors for a couple of hours so that lemongrass can bask in the afternoon sun if you plan to grow it indoors.
Soil that’s rich in organic matter works best for growing lemongrass. Make sure the soil is loose and well-draining as too much water retention can turn the soil soggy. Amend the soil with ingredients such as compost or fish emulsion to make the soil rich in organic matter and nutrients.
It’s important to keep the soil moist but make sure not to overwater. Overwatering makes the soil soggy, and sitting in waterlogged soil for prolonged periods can cause root rot. Check if the soil is ready for watering by sticking your finger in the soil; if the soil is dry one inch below the surface, it’s dry enough to water.
As lemongrass is from the land of sub-tropicals, it’ll not tolerate extreme cold and frost. Temperatures less than 40 degrees F are devastating for the plant and will kill it eventually. The ideal temperature range for growing lemongrass lies between 65 to 80 degrees F. In regions where the temperature falls below 60 degrees F, bring the pot indoors or provide protection from frost.
Add a well-balanced nutrient-rich fertilizer to the soil if it’s nutrient-deficient before planting lemongrass. Amending the soil with aged compost or fish emulsion will also enrich the soil. In the pots, nutrients consumed by the plant won’t replenish on their own using all-purpose liquid nitrogen fertilizer will replenish the nutrients. An organic approach to adding nutrients to the soil will be to top-dress the pot with compost or worm casting.
In cold regions, lemongrass becomes dormant during winters and very slowly or not at all. During this phase, to overwinter lemongrass, cut back the leafy part leaving only an inch of the stalk, and move the plant indoors. If you planted the lemongrass in the pot, you could move the pot indoors in the basement or any other warm spot. Dig out the stalk if you planted it in the garden and transplant it to a pot. If the winters are mild in your region, providing adequate protection to the plant during winters will suffice. Get more info on overwintering lemongrass here!
Lemongrass stalks will be ready for harvest in 55-80 days and can take a bit longer if you grow them from seeds (75-100 days). Grab the base of the grass and pull out the plant to harvest stalks. Younger stalks tend to be fibrous, so harvest stalks only when they are more than half-inch in thickness. You can harvest the leaves when they are around 10-15 inches tall. Use a sharp knife, scissors, or shears to harvest the lemongrass and leave around an inch of grass at the base as it’ll continue to grow, and you can harvest again.
Pests and Diseases
When it comes to lemongrass care, pests and diseases should be amongst your least concern. You’ll hardly need to worry about pests as lemongrass contains a natural pest repellent compound, citronella. Root rot can occur in waterlogged soil, but it won’t happen if you keep watering in check.