Lemongrass or Cymbopogon is a multi-faceted plant. Not only does it present beauty as it grows at all times of the year, but it also has many benefits in cooking and medicine.
While lemongrass can do a lot for us, it’s critical to do our part to keep the plants happy and healthy so we can reap the rewards.
Read on to see how you can best take care of your lemongrass plant!
What Is Lemongrass?
- Lemongrass is a perennial tropical grass most commonly used for flavoring in Thai cooking, though its usage varies across many other tasty dishes.
- Alternatively, lemongrass is also regularly used for its medicinal properties and has been used to treat fever and other ailments for centuries.
Check: Why Is My Lemongrass Leaves Turning Yellow?
Why Should I Grow Lemongrass?
- Despite the many versatile properties lemongrass has, it can be hard to come by unless it’s homegrown.
- Lemongrass is tricky to find in stores ready to purchase and is usually only found in specialty grocery stores. It also isn’t always available.
- Because lemongrass is easy to grow and can be grown almost anywhere, including in the United States, most people break out their green thumb to grow them at home.
- Lemongrass seeds can be found for purchase online if one wants to grow.
Read: Why Is My Lemongrass Turning Red? [How to Save]
Types of Lemongrass
There are many types of lemongrass out there, but these are the kinds most often used:
- West Indian
- East Indian
- Java Citronella
- You have heard of citronella. Citronella is a scent known to ward off irritating insects like mosquitoes, houseflies, and other pests.
- Citronella and Java Citronella are also sometimes used to treat rashes, infections, and other health conditions.
- West Indian and East Indian lemongrass are both known for their distinct properties.
- The East Indian variety is well known for having handy-dandy essential oils for health purposes. West Indian is referred to as “Oriental Lemongrass” and is a beloved cooking ingredient in Thai and Vietnamese delicacies.
Read How To Grow Lemongrass From Seed Indoors
Benefits of Lemongrass
Lemongrass has many benefits, both as a plant in your garden and for your health. The following are details about each benefit.
Many different health benefits come from using lemongrass. They include but are not limited to the following:
- Lowers cholesterol
- Improves digestion
- Acne, since it gets rid of oil
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces fever
- Treat colds
With so many benefits, it’s no wonder many enjoy planting lemongrass beyond them being a beautiful plant.
Lemongrass is also advantageous in the garden as it can protect its other growing companions from insects with its insect repellent properties.
Not to mention, it also looks beautiful!
- Lemongrass is an excellent spice that seasons many dishes. Many cultural cuisines, such as Vietnamese, Thai, Lao, Sri Lankan, and Cambodian, meals rely on lemongrass.
- Lemongrass is a popular ingredient in soups and Thai curries. It also pairs well with most proteins, including meatless alternatives like tofu.
Read What to Plant With Lemongrass
How and What Time of Year Should You Plant Lemongrass?
- Lemongrass should always be planted in the spring, after the last frost.
- You can determine when that is by watching the weather; if the weather has consistently been above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and isn’t predicting any temperature drops, you are good to go.
Important Things to Know About Planting Lemongrass
When planning to have lemongrass in your garden, you should know a few things to ensure proper growth.
Lemongrass thrives best in soil that is rich in nutrients. Adding compost and manure are a few additives you can do to make your soil more habitable for the lemongrass.
Also check: Is Lemongrass a Perennial?
- Lemongrass should be kept in warm temperatures, as it is a tropical plant. Lemongrass is native to Sri Lanka and India but can be grown in the United States.
- Never fret if where you are doesn’t have a warm climate all year-round. You can pot your lemongrass instead so you can move it inside during the colder months.
- Being vigilant is crucial because lemongrass is very sensitive to the frost, so you should be ready to move the plant before the weather regularly starts dropping below the 40s.
- When potting, pick a large enough pot to withstand potential growth. It is imperative to do so because, without proper space, the lemongrass roots will bundle together.
- You can always switch to a larger pot after a year or two if necessary. However, you will need to repot it if the plant grows past the original potting space, you will need to.
Check: How to Grow Lemongrass From Stalk
- For best growth, lemongrass needs moist soil so checking your soil regularly and watering it when dry to the touch is a great way to monitor watering for lemongrass.
- Most recommend watering your lemongrass plants every day to every other day.
- Because of their tropical nature, it is paramount for your lemongrass plants to be grown in an area with plenty of sun exposure.
- With the sunlight, you need to watch and monitor so the leaves don’t dry out. You can do so by misting the plants with a spray bottle filled with water.
- Fertilizer is another essential part of a healthy lemongrass plant.
- Nitrogen is one of the most crucial nutrients and is suggested to have slow-releasing feeders to avoid giving too much fertilizer at once.
- Lack of fertilizer can cause lemongrass death, so investing in a strong fertilizer can be the difference between life and death.
- It’s also important to remember that lemongrass plants can be toxic to your pets, so monitoring them when they are out in the garden with you will keep them from getting into trouble.
- Keeping the plants out of sight will help your companion and your plant.
- Regular upkeep will result in healthier plants down the line. By taking the time to trim leaves down, you make room for more growth.
- If you are growing more than one lemongrass plant, upkeep is vital.
- It’s essential to watch growth rates because they need to be repotted every so often, so it has room to continue to grow.
Read How to Care For a Lemongrass Plant
Potential Problems and How to Prevent Them
- When growing and caring for your lemongrass plants, problems might crop up that will affect the overall plant health.
- By reading about these symptoms, you can try to garner what’s happening and find a solution to get your lemongrass plant feeling healthy again.
- Browning leaves can occur due to a lack of water. Even if you are watering daily or close to every day, depending on temperature, your lemongrass might require more water.
- A mulch bed is a great way to retain moisture and prevent evaporation.
- Rust is a fungus that can live and thrive off your lemongrass plants. If left untreated, rust will end up killing your lemongrass plants.
- Rust occurs when accumulated water droplets rest on the plant for an extended time. Then, the fungus starts to grow in these droplets and slowly overtakes the plant.
- To avoid rust altogether, one should water the base of the plant. Doing so avoids watering the leaves and leaving those pesky droplets.
- If you notice rust on your lemongrass plant, you can start trimming the leaves back that contain rust spots. Separation of the infected from the rest of the plant gives it a chance to rejuvenate.
Red Leaf Spot
- Red leaf spots are reddish-brown bruises that you can find on your plant. Red leaf spots are more prominent in tropical areas, so it’s an unlikely problem in the United States.
- To lessen the damage from red leaf spots, you should ensure your plants are well-spaced and properly irrigated.
- If your lemongrass falls to the red leaf spot, you can treat the spots with fungicide.
- Blight is a compassing term to describe the variety of diseases lemongrass can get. It captures anything that can be caused by the thousands of harmful pathogens floating around.
- Blight is anything that causes your lemongrass plants’ leaves to turn brown, wither, and die. The best course of action is to invest in fungicide and treat the plants accordingly.
- Spider mites are, unfortunately, a top predator for a lemongrass plant. Spider mites are most common in tropical areas but can plague lemongrass from anywhere.
- You’ll know you have spider mites if you notice light-colored specks on your leaves. Spider mites will also cause damage as leaves will turn brown and eventually die.
- Be vigilant as soon as you notice any damage, as these mites reproduce fast!
- You can get rid of them by washing them off with water or investing in an insecticidal soap that will be gentle on the plant but harder on the pests.
- Even introducing a friendly mite species to ward the spider mites off is another option you can approach.
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Lemongrass plants are resourceful plants, but to enjoy them, they must be cared for properly. While lemongrass plants are relatively easy to grow, that doesn’t dismiss the necessary upkeep you might need to incorporate to keep them healthy.
Lemongrass plants can thrive when shown proper attention and action if problems do crop up. Watering and fertilizing regularly are small examples of what you can do.
Keeping your eye out for potential diseases and brown spots also keeps lemongrass plants thriving. As a result, lemongrass can provide for years to come!
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.