Lemongrass is a beautiful garden plant and a tasty addition to your kitchen. You can grow it in a bed or a container.
Because it (Cymbopogon nardus the botanical name) comes from Southeast Asia where it is hot and humid, it does well in most sunny garden settings (zone 9+) and makes an excellent backdrop for your herb garden.
This tall grass-like herb can also serve as a functional privacy divider because it grows to be six feet high. In this article, we will discuss the care of lemongrass in your home garden. Read on to learn more.
Lemon Grass Is Cold Sensitive
If temperatures in your area fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need to plant your lemongrass in a container so that you can bring it in during the cooler months. During warm weather, be sure to position your plants so that they receive full sun.
Grow Lemongrass Plants In Your Garden Bed Or Container
If planting in a bed, be sure that the soil is fertile and loose and has good drainage. A mixture of two parts potting soil and one part compost is ideal. Avoid clay soil because it does not drain properly. Poor drainage can lead to root rot and can deprive your plants of nutrients.
When positioning your plants in your garden bed, be sure there is at least three feet of space between each plant. Lemongrass is an enthusiastic grower, and will quickly spread to fill the space.
If you are planting in a pot, be sure the container is at least a minimum of 16 inches from side to side. A five-gallon bucket is a perfect choice. Remember to drill plenty of drainage holes and put a layer of rock on the bottom to promote good drainage.
Water And Fertilizer Requirements For Lemongrass
When you grow Lemongrass remember it likes to stay in soil that is slightly moist at all times. Unlike many types of plants, you should not allow the soil to dry out between watering. Throughout the growing season, water on a regular basis and check the soil every day for dryness. This is especially important when the weather is hot and dry.
Use a high-nitrogen, water-soluble fertilizer on a weekly basis throughout the summer months. At all other times, your lemongrass plants should be fertilized once a month.
Lemongrass Care In The Wintertime
For outdoor plants in winter, you should take care to protect against freezing. If very cold temperatures are predicted, be sure to cover your garden bed plants with blankets until all danger of freezing has passed.
For container plants, it’s smartest to bring them indoors for the entire winter. Keep them near a window that faces south so that they can receive as much natural sunlight as possible. Alternately, you can use grow lights.
It is also possible to simply winterize your plants by harvesting most of the leaves and digging up the roots along with three or four inches of the stalk. These parts of the plant can overwinter when kept in a well ventilated, dark area that remains consistently above 40 degrees throughout the wintertime. Once all danger of frost has passed, you can replant the roots outdoors.
Pests & Pets
You may be surprised to learn that cats like the smell and taste of lemongrass. If you have a pet cat, you may wish to take steps to keep him or her away from the lemongrass!
Conversely, many garden pests do not like the smell of lemongrass. In fact, outdoors lemongrass is an excellent companion plant to help keep pests away from other plants.
Lemon grass is one of the top recommended mosquito repellent plants for use in the landscape.
Be that as it may, lemongrass is not impervious to pests. Although lemongrass does repel many unwanted insects, it is also subject to some pest infestation. This is especially true if you keep your plants indoors.
Watch out for spider mites! If you see that there are pale speckles on your lemongrass leaves, carry your plant outdoors and blast it vigorously with warm water. This will knock the spider mites off.
Dividing Your Lemongrass Plant
You will need to divide your plants every couple of years. This is especially true when growing them in containers. Because these plants are such enthusiastic growers, they quickly become overcrowded. In the long run, this reduces their productivity.
To divide and propagate your plants, dig them out or remove them from their containers and split their root clumps by hand or using a spade. You can then replant these divisions in the ground or containers as you wish.
Division is the best and easiest method of propagation. It is also possible to root the stalks in water. If you don’t have lemongrass now, one very thrifty and easy way to get some is to pick up a fresh bundle at your local Asian market. You can usually root these in a very short time in a glass of water on a sunny windowsill.
You can grow lemongrass from seed, but propagation by division or by rooting stalks is much easier.
How to Harvest Lemongrass
Throughout the growing season, you can harvest lemongrass for use in cooking and as tea. One simple way is to trim back leaves as needed for use in cooking and beverages. Leaves can be dried to keep on hand for everyday use.
Look for stalks that are about half an inch thick and prune them off close to the ground using a sharp, clean set of pruning shears or a knife.
It’s a good idea to carry a pail of water along with you and plunge the stalks immediately into fresh water as you go. You can keep them fresh on your kitchen counter by keeping them in a vase or glass of room temperature water. Change the water daily to prevent stagnation and rot.
You can also store lemongrass stalks in the hydrator of your refrigerator for a few days. Alternately, you can freeze them.
Enjoying Lemon Grass
The flavor of this delicious herb is zesty and lemony. It makes a great addition to a number Asian dishes. Lemongrass essential oil is popular for use in mosquito repelling candles. For cooking, the lower part of the stalks and the bulb are used. For lemongrass tea, use the leaves. Lemongrass tea is tasty and very soothing for sore throats and upset stomachs.