Several years ago my husband and I stumbled across a lemongrass plant at a local nursery while we were doing our spring garden shopping. Since both of use are HUGE fans of Thai food (which uses a lot of lemongrass) we picked up a plant to put in the back yard. I had no idea how to grow lemongrass but not having to traipse to the store every time we want to make Thai food sounded like a great plan. Growing lemongrass is actually very easy!
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Is Lemongrass hard to grow?
Ok, so this is going to depend on where you live and the extent of your green thumb. Here in Georgia, growing lemongrass was only as hard as digging the hole and sticking the plant in it. Seriously. We bought a small lemongrass plant at the local nursery.
After that, we just found a sunny spot, dug a hole, and stuck the plant in the ground. Other than regular watering, we just watched the lemongrass grow bigger and bigger with almost no attention at all.
Can Lemongrass Survive Winter?
Growing lemongrass in cold climates can be tricky. Thankfully, I live in the south which makes it a bit easier. If you are growing lemongrass in Florida, you will have much better luck with this project.
Our lemongrass plant THRIVED for several years in our back yard. It grew close to 4 feet tall and almost as wide around at the top. With lots of sun and an average amount of water we had more fresh lemongrass than we could ever possibly use. And then came an unseasonably cold winter. With a full week of single digit temperatures, many of our plants didn’t survive the winter.
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Winters here in Georgia are usually fairly mild but last year we lost not only the lemongrass but also several varieties of bamboo and my rosemary bush. Mother nature can be cruel and we were forced to start our lemongrass plant as a baby again this past spring. It is doing incredibly well and loves the location we chose for it. If we have a few mild winters it may even be around for a while.
How to Grow Lemongrass
So, how do you grow lemongrass in your own yard? Obviously, the easiest way to get started is to find a lemongrass plant at your local nursery. There are a few different varieties available, some of which are better for producing essential oil, some of which make larger bulbs, etc.
Talk to your nursery employee about which varieties they carry or check out the National Horticulture Board for descriptions of all the varieties currently available.
The other really easy way to grow lemongrass is to find a bulb at the grocery store that still has a few roots on it. If you put it in water for a few weeks it will start to create a nice root system and you will be able to plant it in your yard.
How to Sprout Lemongrass Stalks
If you find fresh lemongrass at the grocery store, you can try sprouting it yourself and then planting it. Just put the lemongrass stalk into a glass of water in a sunny window. Leave it for about 3 weeks until until it grows roots. Change the water every few days to avoid microbial growth.
Then, fill a small container full of damp potting soil and stick the sprouted lemongrass stalk in the potting soil. Put the root base about one inch below the soil line. Now, just be patient! You can leave it in the pot or eventually transplant it outside. If you like growing food indoors, check out my November planting guide for more suggestions.
Best Conditions for Growing Lemongrass
Ideal conditions to grow lemongrass would be full sun, plenty of water and rich, organic soil. You can plant it directly in the ground or it grows well in containers as well. The bulb of the plant is the part that is most often used as food while the grassy tops make a great tea.
Lemongrass thrives in full sun and well drained soil so choose your location carefully. It will take a couple of months for the plant to be big enough to start harvesting so be patient.
How to Harvest Lemongrass
Once your plant is well established just grab an individual stalk very low to the ground and pull firmly but gently. Try this when the ground is damp after a good rain for best results.
After you have your stalks out of the ground, you want to wash and remove the outermost layers around the base. The part of the lemongrass stalk most often used in cooking is the tender, white interior of the plant.
Lemongrass Plant Uses
So, what can you do with lemongrass? If you bruise the stalk of the lemongrass and put it in soups or stock you will get a wonderfully light lemon flavor. Drying the grassy tops of the plant will give you a wonderful ingredient for tea.
Lemongrass also makes a wonderful ingredient for a DIY herbal steam facial. Just place a few stalks of bruised lemongrass in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Place a towel over your head and put your face over the steaming bowl of lemongrass. This steamy facial will help open up your pores and soften your skin.
Lemongrass has many uses, both in our food and as a medicinal plant. Lemongrass is used to treat stomachaches, high blood pressure, cough, fever, and many other common ailments. Check out WebMD for more detailed medicinal uses for lemongrass.
Fresh Lemongrass Recipes
Lemongrass is an aromatic herb. It has many uses in both food and drinks. If you enjoy the flavor of lemongrass, try this Spicy Lemongrass Soup. You can also make lemongrass tea, which is both delicious and healthy. Check out my lemongrass jelly recipe if you are getting hungry!
Fresh lemongrass tea:
To make lemongrass tea, just bring a pan of water to a boil over high heat. Add your fresh lemongrass stalks and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the water and let cool slightly until it is cool enough to drink. Strain the stalks from the liquid and enjoy. You can also chill it in the refrigerator and pour over ice for an iced lemongrass tea.
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Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire and has worked in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging and freelance writing to share this knowledge with others. Learn more about her HERE.