Lemongrass is a two-for-one plant; it provides outdoor beauty as an ornamental grass and also provides lemony flavor when added to soups, teas, and other dishes.
Lemongrass creates a tall, billowy plant with long blades that resemble blades of grass that sway in the wind. It’s an easy-care plant that will increase the curb appeal of your home and the flavor of your meals. Use these tips for growing your own and learn and how to harvest lemongrass.
Where to Grow Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a tropical plant and needs to be planted in a location that receives full sun. Any location that receives less than 6-hours of direct sunlight each day will cause the plant to produce very few blades and make the plant weak and susceptible to pest infestation.
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Lemongrass also needs heat and moisture to thrive. If your climate can provide this plant with an environment that mimics the tropics, lemongrass with grow beautifully for you.
The Best Soil for Lemongrass
Rich, loamy, slightly sandy soil like you would find naturally in a tropical environment is the best soil conditions for growing lemongrass.
Start with the soil you have and incorporate compost, well-rotted animal manure, leaf mold, and a little sand to meet the soil requirements. Fertile and well-draining is required, this plant will not tolerate soggy soil conditions.
Best Temperature for Growing Lemongrass
Warm, tropical temperature is required for healthy, productive lemongrass. When nighttime spring temperatures are in the 60s F, it’s time to plant. The plant can be grown in-ground in climates with very mild winter weather but in cold climates lemongrass will need to be treated as an annual plant or grown in a container.
Bring containers of lemongrass indoors to overwinter before temperatures get into the 40s F at night and before the first frost in fall.
Lemongrass Food And Water
All ornamental grasses need to be fed with nitrogen-rich fertilizer to enable the grass to produce its best top growth.
You can use a slow-release 6-4-0 fertilizer (organic or synthetic) that will keep the lemongrass fed throughout the growing season. Mix a 1/2-cup of 6-4-0 plant food into the soil at planting time and use it as a side-dressing for the grass once a month.
Use manure tea or seaweed solution for watering lemongrass once a week to keep the grass hydrated, nourished, and improve soil structure.
Make manure tea (or compost tea) by placing 1-cup of manure or compost is a piece of cheesecloth and tying the ends together to create a tea bag. Place the tea bag in a 5-gallon bucket of water and place bucket in the sun for 2-3 days to steep.
Lemongrass is not a drought-tolerant plant and will need to be watered frequently to keep the soil moist.
How to Harvest Lemongrass
Use a hand-held garden trowel to remove individual stalks, roots and all, from a clump of lemongrass. The inner stalks are white, tender, and juicy, and can be chopped for immediate use or the stalks can be frozen whole for later use.
These pieces of lemongrass stalk with roots can be used to propagate lemongrass as well. Replant the whole piece in another spot in your garden or a container. Water in with seaweed solution to reduce stress and keep your rooted cutting moist for a couple of weeks.
You can also harvest lemongrass by simply snipping a piece a stem, rather than digging out the whole clump. These pieces of stem last a few weeks in the fridge and they’re delicious in many meals!
The green leafy grass blades are too tough to eat but can be snipped off and used to make tea or broth, as well as garden mulch.
Do you grow your own lemongrass? How will you harvest it when the time comes?