Lemon Grass planting guide
Add Your Own Home Grown Zest to Any Dish
Lemongrass or Cymbopogon citratus, the culinary variety of lemon grass, is a zesty, wonderfully fragrant ingredient to enhance homemade teas, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, and is used for a wide variety of homeopathic purposes. Ensure a ready supply by growing your own! Large clumps of tall (3-6 feet) grass will form an ornamental accent in your garden, and flavor the breeze with the refreshing scent of lemons!
Plant at current soil line
Light to moderate moisture
Full sun to light shade
- Lemongrass will thrive in full sun, yielding the best growth and flavor in 8+ hours per day direct sun. If you can provide a location of at least 6 house direct sun, spring through fall, your lemon grass will be quite happy.
- Loose, well-drained soil is important for your lemongrass’ health. Add leaf mold, compost, dried grass clippings, well-rotted manure – natural sources of both nutrients and quality tilth to average or poor garden soil. If planting in a large container, use good quality potting mix without water absorption crystals.
Planting Depth and Spacing
- Plant your lemongrass in the garden bed or a large container at the same soil depth as it was growing in its container. If planting in the ground, allow 24+” spacing. For containers, plant in a 5 gallon container or larger to allow for full growth.
- Take care not to over water your newly transplanted lemon grass. Do not let it sit in wet soil. Once active top growth is evident, weekly deep waterings will encourage good root growth without allowing the roots to dry out.
- Actively growing Lemongrass processes a lot of nitrogen. Feed monthly with a high nitrogen fertilizer – keeping in mind your intended use for the plant. If you intend to use it for cooking or teas, you might prefer to use an organic food like fish emulsion.
- When planted within it's hardiness zones, of 9B - 11, lemongrass can remain in the ground, undisturbed over the winter. In colder climates, plan to bring the container inside before the first frost. Another option is to dig and divide a growing clump, and plant it in smaller containers to keep it over the winter. The lemon grass will remain evergreen, but growth slows considerably over the winter. Be sure to lighten up on the water while the growth slows.
Harvesting and Storing Lemon Grass
- The leafy tops of the lemon grass can be harvested at any point once they are 10-12+ inches tall. The leafy portions are typically used for flavoring teas, soups and marinades. To harvest the stalk, allow it to mature to a half inch diameter. With a sharp knife, slice it off cleanly at the soil line – this will not hurt the rest of the plant. Remove the tough, outer sheath, and slice the inner core much as you would green onions. Press the stem with the flat side of a knife to bruise to release the flavor - this is essential when infusing soups and syrups. Chopped pieces of lemon grass stalk can be frozen in ice cube trays with water for future use, as can the chopped or minced stalk. For long term storage of the leaves, drying is preferable.