Lemongrass is a tender perennial often used in cooking, tea, and cosmetics. The herb grows tallest in hot and humid conditions with full sun and well-drained soil at a pH of 6.5-7.
However, there’s much more to growing a tall and healthy plant than just water and sun.
It includes creating the ideal conditions, both indoors and outdoors, for it grow, maintaining it throughout its growth, and more.
How Should You Grow Lemongrass?
- Before we learn how to maintain lemongrass, let’s explore how to start growing the herb. Typically, there are two ways to start growing your new perennial.
- You can grow the plant from seed or propagate it from store-bought stalks.
- I prefer propagating mine. When buying from a store, I know the flavor will already be great, and the quality of the plant will be high. It also takes less time!
Also, read: How to grow Lemongrass From Cuttings
Growing Lemongrass From Seeds
- You can plant seeds in pots or directly into the soil. You won’t want to bury the seeds deep into the dirt and instead lightly cover them with compost.
- This ensures sunlight will reach them, which aids in the seeds’ germination. Maintain moist soil and the seeds should germinate within 10-20 days.
- Keep the soil around 70 degrees F and in full light if starting the seeds in a container. You can transplant the seedlings outside when roots show through the bottom of the pot.
Check out: Why Is My Lemongrass Plant Dying? [11 Reasons & How to Prevent]
Growing Lemongrass From Propagation
- If you’re purchasing stalks from your local store, look for firm and fresh stems that are green on top and a rich white toward the base.
- Place the stems in a glass, completely cover the thick white end of the stalk with water, and leave the glass on a windowsill with plenty of light.
- Change the water every few days to avoid bacteria growth. Within a few weeks, roots will begin to appear. Once the roots are a few inches long, you can plant the stems into compost.
Read out: Why Is My Lemongrass Leaves Turning Yellow?
Ideal Outdoor Conditions for Lemongrass Growth
- Lemongrass is native to hot, tropical climates, and it’s ideal to mimic that climate when growing the herb. These plants thrive in temperatures above 60 degrees F.
- Ensure the area receives enough sunlight when planting directly into the ground because the perennial needs a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily.
- Even though lemongrass loves the sun, it’s essential to keep the soil damp to wet. Watering daily is a great way to prevent dehydration. Remember: they’re tropical plants, not desert plants.
- Each herb should be planted at least 24” apart because the bushes can get up to 5’ tall and 3’ wide.
- They should be planted in well-drained soil in a pH range of 6.5-7.
- Mixing aged compost or rich organic matter into the soil will help keep the lemongrass healthy.
- As the summer wears on, consider adding water-soluble plant food to your daily routine.
Also, check: Why Is My Lemongrass Turning Red? [How to Save]
Ideal Indoor Conditions for Lemongrass Growth
- Like planting outside, keeping the growing area hot and damp is a good idea. Having a room or a greenhouse at over 70 degrees F is ideal.
- Because the plants need 6 hours of sunlight, you’ll need to have a lot of windows or a grow light. There are some great options for indoor plant lighting, but that’s for another article!
- The water, plant food, and space requirements are the same as outdoor planting. One plant per pot is a great rule, and the pot shouldn’t be smaller than 12”.
Read: How to Grow Lemongrass From Stalk
Maintaining Healthy Lemongrass
- While we’ve covered soil types and sun requirements, keeping the plant healthy is essential to helping lemongrass grow tall.
- This plant typically has a 5-6 month growing period where the plant can get up to 5’ tall, which means there will be a lot of dead growth if you don’t have much to harvest.
Trimming Your Lemongrass
- Giving your lemongrass bush a good, once-a-year “haircut” in spring helps the plant wake up and grow back stronger and healthier.
- Pruning should happen a few weeks before your region’s growing season starts. This is typically when nighttime temps stay consistently in the mid-40s.
- This could be anywhere from early March (Florida) to late April (New York) to mid-May (North Dakota).
- Start by removing the dead growth from underneath the leaves. Wear gloves because the leaf edges can be very sharp. Then, pull out brown stalks and browning leaves.
- It’s alright if the grass tips are still brown (especially if it wintered over outside). Hedge sheers are great for taking off as much dead growth as possible.
- Don’t worry about trimming it too short. You won’t hurt the plant because it’s dormant.
- When summer arrives, the bush will begin to grow enthusiastically, and you’ll see new shoots coming up.
- After the first pruning, you maintain the plant throughout the year by removing wilted outer stalks and harvesting usable ones.
- Upkeeping the plant reduces the spread of pests and diseases and keeps your plant healthier overall.
Check: Is Lemongrass Safe for Dogs? Can Dogs Eat Lemongrass?
Wintering Over Lemongrass
- Lemongrass won’t survive every winter in the United States.
- Except for the very edge of the West Coast, anywhere north of Georgia will have to take the plants inside for the colder months.
- Lemongrass is referred to as a “tender perennial,” meaning they can survive the winter, but they’ll need a little extra love and attention.
- Depending on your USDA hardiness zone, you’ll have different instructions for maintaining a healthy plant year-round.
- These herbs go through hibernation cycles when temperatures drop below 45 degrees F. This hibernation acts as a “plant nap” and allows the plant to rejuvenate for the next season.
Wintering Lemongrass Outside
- The herb grows best in USDA zones 9 and 10. If you live in areas like Miami, Florida, or Houston, Texas, you can leave lemongrass outside all year round.
- If you live in zones 8b to 9, you’ll be able to leave them outside with some special care. Trim the leaves down to a few inches above the white stalks and then cover them with a few inches of mulch. You’ll only have to occasionally water them to keep the roots alive.
Read: Is Lemongrass a Perennial?
Wintering Lemongrass Inside
- If you live in a latitude above Georgia, you’ll want to bring your plants inside. We know how rough the frost can be, and the ground often freezes solid.
- To do this, dig up a few stalks, trim them down to a few inches, and plant them in smaller pots. Only place a few stalks per pot so they’ll have room to grow in the spring. This is also a great way to propagate from your bushes.
- Put the pots in a bright, south-facing window. Any window with direct sun and six or more hours of light will work great.
- Unlike during the growing season, you’ll only need to keep the soil damp.
- If you’re looking for an even lower maintenance option, you can put the plants in a dim basement. They’ll go into complete hibernation, and you’ll only need to water them a few times.
Check: How Do You Keep the Lemongrass Plant Healthy?
Why Should I Grow Lemongrass?
- With all this information on how to grow it, you may be wondering why you should. Lemongrass is used in various products such as cuisine, tea, and cosmetics.
- The most popular usage for the herb is in Asian cuisine – specifically Thai and Vietnamese.
- Many gardeners add the plant to their landscape projects because of lemongrass’ natural insect repellent properties and pleasing citrus smell.
Harvesting and Storing Lemongrass
- You can harvest the stalks when they’re 12” tall and half an inch wide. You’ll need to look for rich, white bases and full, healthy leaves when gathering. You don’t want to see any brown.
- The stalks have a tender inner base used in stir-fries, salads, and sauces. It keeps well frozen when stored in thinly sliced pieces laid out in a single layer; all zipped up in a sealed bag.
- When cooking with the leaves, they add a burst of citrus to marinades and teas.
- You can dry the leaves by bundling them and hanging them upside down in a dark place, placing them in the oven, or putting them in a dehydrator.
- The dried lemongrass leaves will keep their flavor for up to one year when stored in tightly sealed jars.
Check out: How to Care For a Lemongrass Plant [Useful Tips]
Essential Takeaway Tips for Growing Lemongrass
Whew! We know that was a lot of information. Here are some of our top takeaways for helping lemongrass grow tall:
- Lemongrass can grow from either seeds or propagation.
- The plants need 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.
- The soil needs to be moist and well-watered.
- Temperatures need to be above 60 degrees F.
- Lemongrass can only winter over outside in USDA regions 8b and above.
- The bushes grow large, so they need plenty of space.
- Trimming the bushes yearly helps maintain a steady, healthy growth of stalks.
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- What to Plant With Lemongrass
- How To Grow Lemongrass From Seed Indoors
- Growing Lemongrass in Pots
- Why are my hanging basket plants dying?
You have a great shot at making lemongrass grow tall no matter where you try to produce it. The plant is hardy and quick growing, whether inside during the winter or outside in the heat.
Just remember to water it!
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.