Is Lemongrass a Perennial?

Before adding anything to your garden, it’s crucial to understand how the plant will behave over the long term. If you’re considering lemongrass, then you should figure out if lemongrass is perennial or annual before you plant it.

This post gives you all the information you need to know to discover if lemongrass is a perennial.

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Is Lemongrass a Perennial? Yes!

  • The quick answer is that yes, lemongrass is a perennial plant. This means the plant will regrow each spring cycle, unlike annual plants that die after one growing season.
  • That’s great news for people who want to plant lemongrass just one time and see it return to grow year after year. You don’t have to put effort into a plant that will die after one cycle.
  • But there are many other things to know about lemongrass and perennials.
  • Let’s continue by discussing the differences between perennial and annual plants. After that, we’ll jump back to more specifics about lemongrass so you can use it to the fullest extent possible.

Read: Why Is My Lemongrass Leaves Turning Yellow?

The Differences Between Perennial and Annual

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  • To ensure we are all on the same page, it helps to review some of the basic definitions we’re discussing. And that is mainly focused on two plant types, perennials, and annuals.
  • Each type of plant has its pros and cons. Depending on the circumstances, it can be beneficial to have both types around as part of your garden in the United States, even in sunny states like California.

Also, read: Why Is My Lemongrass Turning Red? [How to Save]

What Is a Perennial Plant?

  • Perennial plants can repeatedly go through growth and bloom cycles. Often these are plants with the ability to endure cold winters, but not always.
  • Perennials are a good choice if you want the same plant to return year after year. You can plant it once, and if properly taken care of, it will likely return for the next blooming cycle.
  • That doesn’t mean that perennials are guaranteed to return, nor does it mean that they will last forever. Conditions must be ideal for them to return.
  • Some perennials can only survive for three to five years. Others are more stable and will return for decades under the most favorable conditions.

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What Is an Annual Plant?

  • On the other hand, annual plants will germinate, flower, set seed, and die. Once they go through the cycle, they will not return. Only new plants will grow.
  • That can be beneficial for a few reasons. It’s perfect if you want to plant something for just one year and switch it up the year after.
  • Annuals can also be an excellent way to fill temporary gaps that will fill in over time. Plus, they can add an instant splash of color to an otherwise drab area.
  • It’s also worth noting that annuals can self-sow, meaning that they will drop seeds and grow new plants near the same area year after year.

Also, check: Why Is My Lemongrass Turning Purple? [Reasons & How to Fix]

Perennial Plants Compared to Annual Plants

Here is a table summarizing the difference between perennials and annuals:

Life SpanThree Years or MoreOne Season
Cold ToleranceChance of SurvivalMostly Intolerant
Common TraitsShort BloomsAdds Punches of Color

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How to Garden Lemongrass

  • Now that we know the answer to “is lemongrass a perennial?” is yes, let’s discuss how you can see this lovely plant flourish in your garden.
  • The most critical step is to plant it at the right time. That is especially vital in places like New York, where the cold winters can freeze and kill young plants.
  • To avoid that, you want to plant lemongrass in the spring once there is little to no chance of frost. That allows it to grow a solid root foundation before the upcoming winter.
  • After first planting, lemongrass does well if you provide it with rich soil. Adding compost material can help bring life to this perennial plant, as does enriched soil.
  • Lemongrass likes to be in full sun and a lot of heat. Plant it in an area that receives sun most of the day, at a minimum. The hotter and sunnier, the better for lemongrass.
  • Ensure an adequate supply of nutrients and fertilizer, plus consistent moisture. You should water lemongrass as soon as the top inch of soil is dry.
  • It’s also crucial for the soil to drain well. Although lemongrass likes plenty of water, it does not want to be saturated and sit in stagnant water.
  • Finding a place with rich soil that drains well isn’t always easy. Carefully select the planting location. Since this plant returns year after year in select climates, it is an important decision.
  • Allow lemongrass to grow until it reaches somewhere around 12 inches in height. The base should be around a half-inch wide.
  • Once it reaches that size, you can harvest the stalks and use the delicious and aromatic plant in many ways. We’ll dive into all the fantastic ways you can use lemongrass in a moment.
  • But first, it’s vital to know that if you want lemongrass to make it through the winter, you might need to give it some help.
  • It comes from tropical climates. As a result, it is well suited for Zone 8 and warmer climates. These are warm areas with long growing seasons and mild winters.
  • In the United States, you can find Zone 8 in many southern states, including Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.
  • If you aren’t in one of those areas and will have a harsher winter, you could consider bringing it inside to make it through the winter and be ready for the next season.
  • To grow lemongrass inside, you’ll need some stalks only a few inches tall and pots to plant them. Add a little moisture to help them thrive. 
  • The lemongrass should grow very slowly throughout the winter, only needing water a few times.
  • You can bring it back outside for planting when frost is not likely, and the temperatures should stay above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Common Uses for Lemongrass

While we are now well aware that anyone wondering, “is lemongrass a perennial?” can be sure it is, it might not be so clear as to why one would grow this plant. What are its main uses?

Lemongrass has many uses, and some of the most common are:

  • Adds flavor to certain dishes, especially Thai and Vietnamese recipes.
  • Steeped in hot water to make lemongrass tea.
  • Create an aromatic simple syrup for use in cocktails and other drinks.
  • Finely chop to add in fresh salads and cold dishes.

As you can see, the uses for lemongrass are plentiful. It has a remarkable aroma, somewhat similar to citrus fruits, and can add a punch to many dishes, including soups, drinks, and salads.

Since lemongrass is a perennial, you can plant it once and then harvest it year after year for your favorite uses. Before you know it, you will learn how to incorporate this unique plant into many foods.

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How To Harvest and Use Lemongrass

  • Now that you are ready to plant and use lemongrass, a perennial that will return year after year if well cared for, it’s important to understand how to use it in your home.
  • Once you allow it to grow to a mature height of around 12 inches high with a stem around a half-inch thick, it is time to harvest.
  • To harvest lemongrass, you want to cut it at the base or hand-pull entire stalks. Pulling the stalks might remove some of the roots, which could hamper its ability to grow back.
  • That is why many people opt to cut the stalks. You want to go it low by the base. That way you will get the bulb-like area at the bottom which looks similar to a green onion or scallion.
  • The edible portion of lemongrass is near the bottom.
  • Once you harvest the stalks, you start to process lemongrass by removing the leafy section toward the top. This leafy section can be used in teas and to extract oil for other purposes.
  • What remains is the base. In the core of the base is a white inner, which is the part primarily used in cooking. Sometimes you want to peel off the outer layers to reveal the white inner.
  • From this point, the method you use to prepare lemongrass depends on your desired usage.
  • If you want to add flavor to liquid-based dishes, such as soup, you can cut the lemongrass into large sections.
  • Place those sections in your food, and the lemongrass will release the flavor into the rest of the dish.
  • If you want to use lemongrass as a fresh ingredient in salads or other foods where you’ll eat it, then it’s better to chop up the lemongrass.
  • The small pieces will be easier to chew and still provide plenty of flavors.
Is Lemongrass a Perennial
Is Lemongrass a Perennial

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Is Lemongrass a Perennial? Wrap Up

Lemongrass is a perennial plant. With proper care, it will continue to survive through multiple life cycles and can return year after year. Lemongrass is best suited for warm climates, so if you have harsh winters, you might need to bring it inside to survive the winter.

Once lemongrass is about 12 inches high, you can harvest the stalks above ground and use them in many Asian dishes, drinks, and fresh salads. And there you have it! You now know that lemongrass is indeed a perennial plant and will return each year if properly maintained.

Plus, you have the techniques to get the best out of this delicious and aromatic plant!