Lemongrass: A Fresh and Easy Herb to Grow in Your Garden

Are you looking to add a touch of zest to your cooking? Look no further than lemongrass! This herb, with its strong lemon flavor, is a staple in Asian cuisine. Not only is it easy to grow, but it also adds a beautiful touch to your garden. Let’s dive into the world of lemongrass and discover how you can grow it in your garden or in containers.

Lemongrass plants in the ground

Growing Lemongrass

Lemongrass may seem like an ordinary plant, but its unique flavor and versatility make it a standout herb. Whether you choose to grow it directly in the ground or in containers, lemongrass will thrive and add a delightful touch to your garden.

Lemongrass Varieties

There are several varieties of lemongrass, but two are commonly used as edible herbs: West Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) and East Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus). While both are edible and can be used in cooking, the West Indian variety is preferred by most chefs.

Mature lemongrass plants can reach a height of about 3 feet and are a perfect addition to warm regions, where they can be planted in flower beds as a background plant.

Lemongrass plant

How to Grow Lemongrass

To grow lemongrass, select a sunny spot in your garden, preferably on a warm, sloping area that is well-protected from strong winds. Lemongrass thrives in well-drained soil, so make sure the area provides sufficient drainage.

If you live in a colder climate, you can still enjoy the benefits of growing lemongrass by planting it in a pot. This allows you to move the plant indoors when the weather turns chilly.

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Gloved hands planting lemongrass

Requirements for Growing Lemongrass

Lemongrass requires full sun to thrive, so make sure it gets plenty of sunlight. It also prefers well-drained soil.

When it comes to fertilizer and water requirements, lemongrass is a hardy plant that doesn’t demand much attention. In-ground plants only require average soil, but a side dressing of compost once a season can provide a boost. If you’re growing lemongrass in containers, a side dressing of compost every six weeks or so will keep them happy.

Remember to maintain a moist soil environment without overwatering. Good drainage is essential for the health of the plant.

Preventing Problems

Lemongrass is relatively pest-free, but it can be susceptible to rust fungus. If you notice yellowing leaves with brown spots, it’s a sign of this disease. To combat it, simply remove any damaged or dead leaves and dispose of them properly. This will help prevent the spread of spores.

Lemongrass plant in a planter

Growing Lemongrass in Containers

If you have limited garden space or live in a colder climate, growing lemongrass in containers is a great option. Fill a container with good-quality potting mix and plant the lemongrass according to its specifications. Be sure to water deeply and regularly to help the roots establish.

In cold-weather regions, it’s important to protect the container from freezing during winter. You can either move the container into an unheated garage or shed that doesn’t drop below freezing, or surround it with insulating materials to keep it warm.

Two bundles of lemongrass stalks on a wooden table

Propagating Lemongrass

Now that you know how to grow lemongrass, let’s explore different methods of propagating it. Whether you want to start from stalks, divisions, or seeds, lemongrass is a plant that’s easy to get growing.

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Starting from Stalks

If you can find lemongrass stalks with the root ends intact at your local grocery store, you can use them to grow your own lemongrass. Simply place the stalks in a glass of water so that the root ends are submerged. Change the water every few days, and soon you’ll see new roots emerging. Once the roots are about an inch or two long, you can transplant the stalks into a pot or directly into your garden.

Alternatively, you can set the stalks directly into soil to root. Just make sure to keep the soil moist. If you live in a hot and dry climate, rooting the stalks in water is often more successful.

Clump of grass growing in soil

Growing Lemongrass from Divisions

Lemongrass is a perennial in warm climates, and you can easily propagate more plants from a single lemongrass plant. The plant grows in clumps, so you can divide it as desired. Simply use a shovel to dig up some rooted lemongrass from the edge of the plant. This won’t harm the growing plant, and you’ll have ready-to-plant lemongrass.

Alternatively, you can dig up the entire plant and divide it into multiple smaller plants by breaking up the root ball with a shovel.

Starting with Seeds

If you can’t find lemongrass stalks for planting, you can order lemongrass seeds online. Scatter the seeds on the surface of soil in a small pot and cover them with about half an inch of soil. Keep the soil moist during the germination period.

Cool Climate Growing

In cool climates, growing lemongrass in a large pot gives you the flexibility to move it to a frost-free location during winter. Dig up several stalks with their roots intact and transfer them to pots. Keep these pots indoors during the cold season, and when spring arrives and the danger of frost has passed, you can plant them back out in the garden.

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Lemon grass plants after harvest

Harvesting and Using Lemongrass

When it’s time to harvest your lemongrass, you can simply snip off the leaves with a pair of scissors or dig out the stalks at the base of the plant using a small trowel. Harvesting won’t cause any harm to mature plants.

Fresh lemongrass leaves and stalks are commonly used in Asian cuisine. The inner stalks are perfect for cooking, while the green leaves can be used to make lemongrass tea. You can also get creative and use lemongrass in homemade deodorant or a refreshing lemongrass ginger scrub.

If you’re wondering what to make with your lemongrass, here are a few delicious ideas to get you started:

  • Lemongrass-Ginger Syrup
  • Lemongrass Chicken Curry
  • Coconut Milk Lemongrass Shrimp
  • Pineapple, Lemongrass, and Coconut Fried Rice

Lemongrass plant in a pot

Now that you have all the knowledge to grow and use lemongrass, it’s time to embark on this flavorful journey in your own garden. Enjoy the fresh taste and fragrant aroma of this versatile herb!

Originally published May 2014; this post has been updated.

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