Learn how to give it a haircut with my step-by-step pruning guide, when to cut it back safely, and why it's important to maintain your lemongrass clump.When I propagated lemongrass (purchased from the grocery store) for my garden, I started with only three stalks and planted them in the ground once the roots reached a few inches.I don’t often trim it or divide it, but since it’s spring and lemongrass doesn’t really get going again until summer, it was high time to give it a much-needed haircut.Here’s how you can tell your plant is dormant, plus my simple technique for pruning lemongrass and keeping it healthy all year long.In USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and above, lemongrass slows down in winter and doesn’t put out as many new leaves each week.It’s happiest in a dimly lit room that’s kept at 50°F to 60°F (like a basement or garage), where it stays dormant through the cold, dark days of winter.Special note for overwintering lemongrass: Cut the leaves off to keep the plant tidy and manageable, and water sparingly so it stays alive through the winter months.If you’re in zones 8b to 9, your job is easy: simply pull back the frost blanket (or mulch) and cut down the entire plant to just a couple inches above the tender white part of the stalk, removing all the brown leaves.It feels a bit shocking, I know, but as summer creeps closer, your lemongrass will grow back quickly.Once you’ve got the shape you want, you can finesse the cut and go all Edwards Scissorhands on it, trimming random brown tips here and there until your OCD wears off.(Lemongrass is susceptible to rust, a fungal infection that favors warm temperatures and high moisture.). .
How to Grow Lemongrass
Cymbopogon citratus The first time I harvested lemongrass in Virginia, I was invigorated by its refreshing, citrusy fragrance.Since it’s native to the tropics, this herb only survives as a perennial outdoors in plant hardiness Zones 10 and 11.The plant’s upright arching shape and attractive green leaves will add interest and texture to your garden.Both the leaves and the stalks are used to flavor dishes such as soups and curries, but as they can be very fibrous, they are usually removed after cooking.The Department of Export Agriculture of Sri Lanka reports that the earliest reference to lemongrass oil came from the Philippines in the 17th century.Containing a variety of vitamins and minerals, it is also rich in phytochemical compounds such as saponins, flavonoids, phenols, and alkaloids.The citrus scent comes from citral, one of the volatile oil compounds which also includes monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes.A tea made from the leaves or stalks is also reported to help with gastrointestinal problems, stress, and bladder issues.In the kitchen it’s most often used in southeast Asian cuisines such as Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese food, giving them their characteristic citrus tones.Only put a sprinkling of soil over the seeds, as they need plenty of light to be able to germinate.Seedlings can take up to three weeks to emerge, and you’ll need to keep the soil moist during this period.With its habit of spreading quickly, if you don’t want it to take over your garden, growing in pots is a good way to keep it contained.If you don’t have lemongrass plants in your garden, look for it in the produce section of your grocery store.Cut off the leaves and use them in your cooking, making sure that you’ve got a good 3-4 inches of stalk, to allow for successful root formation.Dig a 1/2-inch hole, place the cutting root side down, and backfill around the stem with soil.Lemongrass is a tender perennial, meaning it will die back in colder climates.This way, when frost threatens, you can move your containers indoors to protect them from plummeting temperatures.Whether you’re growing it in the ground or in containers, lemongrass requires full sun and well-draining, moist soil that’s rich in organic matter.If you leave the plants past this point, without cutting for harvest they will continue to grow and provide ornamental interest in the garden year-round in warm climates.With the arrival of frost, they will die back and can be removed and added to the compost pile.If they have enough room, they can expand up to four feet in diameter, so bear this in mind when you choose your location!Keep soil moist but not waterlogged and in dry areas you can mist the leaves for humidity.When you are looking for plants for your garden, look for C. citratus or ‘West indian lemongrass.’ This species is the best for culinary use, thanks to its strong, citrus flavor.Symptoms include brown, red, and yellow streaks on the leaves and this usually occurs in excessively damp, moist conditions.If you spot this pest on your plant, spray the aphids off with a blast of water or use neem oil or insecticidal soap.When you cut the stalks make sure you leave at least an inch at the bottom if you want the plant to continue growing.Alternatively, prepare ahead for your favorite recipes by chopping or slicing the stalks and leaves before putting them in the freezer.Discard any plant material that develops mold – this is a sign that your climate or your current weather conditions are too humid to air dry the herbs.You’ll find a roundup of the best models on the market today on our sister site, Foodal.It’s important to note that most parts of the lemongrass plant are added to dishes for flavoring and then removed before consumption.Try using your lemongrass in this spicy and comforting red coconut curry chicken with toasted sesame noodles from our sister site, Foodal.Steep for ten minutes, strain, and sweeten to your liking with honey or sugar.Place the crushed stalks into a glass jar and cover them with a neutral carrier oil such as almond or grapeseed.Plant Type: Tender perennial grass Water Needs: 1 inch per week Native to: Southeast Asia Maintenance: Low Hardiness (USDA Zone): 8b-12 Soil Type: Nitrogen rich, friable Season: Year round Soil pH: 5.5-7.5 Exposure: Full sun Soil Drainage: Well-draining Time to Maturity: 75-100 days Companion Planting: Mint, cilantro Spacing: 1-2 feet per clump Avoid Planting With: Corn, tomatoes Planting Depth: Surface, for seeds Family: Poaceae Height: Up to 5 feet Subfamily: Panicodeae Spread: 4 feet Genus: Cymbopogon Tolerance: Heat, repels insects Species: citratus Common Pests: Yellow sugarcane aphid Common Disease: Lemongrass rust.
How to Grow and Care for Lemongrass
Common Name Lemongrass Botanical Name Cymbopogon citratus Family Poaceae Plant Type Perennial, annual, herb Mature Size 2-4 ft. tall, 2–3 ft. wide Sun Exposure Full Soil Type Loamy Soil pH Neutral Hardiness Zones 10-11 (USDA) Native Areas Asia Toxicity Toxic to pets.Lemongrass grows with abundance in areas where conditions mimic the warm and humid habitat of its native region.The plant likes lots of heat, light, and moisture: Provide this, and your lemongrass will grow and multiply quickly.The standard "1 inch per week" favored by many garden plants will allow lemongrass to thrive, but it can get by on considerably less.Lemongrass is very frost sensitive, so if you plan to overwinter the plant indoors in pots, bring it inside before temperatures drop into the 40s.There are no named cultivars of lemongrass, but another species in the Cymbopogon genus is worth not—Cymbopogon nardus, also known as citronella grass.This plant is not edible, but it has a pungent but pleasant odor that can be effective as an insect deterrent when grown in pots on patios or decks.Shear the ornamental grass to about 6 inches high at the end of winter, when plants are in their resting phase.Lemongrass plants will rebound quickly and send up new shoots when warm weather returns.Press the seeds lightly into a sterile potting mix, and keep moist until germination, which occurs usually within about 10 to 14 days.In cold climates, you can grow a single root division in a small container in a sunny windowsill to keep the plant going for next season's harvest.Choosing a potting soil premixed with a time-released fertilizer can save you an extra step in feeding your plants.Gardeners in zones 8 and 9 may find that it dies back to the ground in winter, then returns the following spring.In colder regions, it's possible to dig up clumps and plant them in containers to grow indoors in a bright, sunny location for the winter.Symptoms include brown spots or streaks on leaves, leading to plant death. .
Lemongrass Grow Guide
Lemongrass is a tropical plant that freezes to death where winter temperatures drop below 15F (-9C).Start with a purchased plant in spring, and grow it in a pot until the soil warms in early summer.Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.In late summer, dig away an outer stalk, cut back the leaves to 3 inches (8 cm), and plant it in a small container.Grow it through winter in a sunny windowsill, providing only small amounts of water, and replant outdoors the following spring.When lemongrass is grown in containers, shift the plants to larger pots as needed. .
Spicy warm lemongrass, paired with zingy fresh lime and the clean uplifting aromas of Australian eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils make for an invigorating wash.Australian extra virgin olive oil and our proprietary blend of nourishing plant oils and butters, create a truly botanical soap bar. .
Beware: Can cause cut fingers – Lemongrass
After transplant I gave it a trim, a dose of liquid fertiliser and a general tidy up and hopefully it will now happily produce some new stems.I do find that the tops of the leaves irritate my skin and they are also quite sharp so it is best to wear gloves when harvesting.The seed is easily saved and can then be sown in late Spring (I have problems getting it to germinate much before November).Or you could buy a healthy looking stalk with its base attached and try placing it in a glass of water to grow roots and then plant out. .