How to Grow Lemongrass
Lemongrass (sometimes called Lemon Grass) is a super-easy herb to grow!
It’s a member of the grass family like corn, wheat and your lawn. It’s useful in the kitchen, wonderful in teas and makes a gorgeous ornamental herb in the garden. In much of the USA it is grown as an annual or brought indoors to overwinter… being winter hardy only to zone 10.
There are several different types of Lemongrass.
You may see plants labeled as East or West Indian Lemongrass.
Among these are Cymbopogon citratus which is found in Thai cooking and has a slightly enlarged base- sort of like you see with scallions. The leaves are used for tisanes, or teas.
There is also Cymbopogon flexuosus. This one can be started from seed and is also used in cooking with the leaves also being used in teas and flavorings.
You may also see Cymbopogon nardus or C. winterianus which has these reddish stems. These plants are grown and harvested for oil production. The oil is used in fragrances and flavorings. As with the other plants the leaves can be used for teas.
All of these plants have long leaves with sharp edges. They all have a lemony fragrance and can become quite large in the garden, with some getting 3′ tall or more and just as wide. They also all like warmth, full sun, and moist but well draining soil.
Where do you find a Lemongrass plant?
If you are lucky enough to have an Asian market within driving distance you can often find Lemongrass stalks there. If you can find one with a few little roots attached ( like the two below) they can often be placed in a glass of water to really root out.
Once they have developed roots you can plant them. If that’s out of the question, you may also hit the jackpot and find started plants in a garden center near you.
Many started nursery plants are just labeled Lemongrass and you won’t always know which you have. That’s OK, you can just use the leaves or grow it for the pretty plant that it is.
You can plant your Lemongrass in a container if you like, they do very well in pots. You may need to bump up the size of the pot after awhile, these things will grow fast… particularly once the summer heats up.
If your Lemongrass has gotten really big and you want to divide it, you can try jabbing it with a shovel. By jabbing I mean jabbing the shovel into the middle of the plant, stepping on the shovel and prying the plant apart.
If you can’t separate it that way, then try two digging forks placed back to back in the center of the plant to separate it. Other alternatives might be a large knife or saw. Even with larger potted plants the fibrous roots are often so tightly woven together that it can’t be divided with small garden trowels. Or at least I can’t do it with trowels.
Once you have
wrestled separated your roots, clip back the plant down towards the base, replant or pot them and you’ll have lots more Lemongrass in no time!