Grow Your Own Lemongrass

Love lemon? Try your hand at growing lemongrass.

When it comes to citrusy herbs, it’s tough to beat lemongrass. This easy-growing herb is a citrus powerhouse, serving a lemony explosion that’s tasty in stir fries, savory dishes, sweet treats and flavorful sauces. It’s a staple in Asian cuisine and makes a knock-your-socks-off cup of tea. What’s not to love?

Photo by: Shutterstock/P-fotography

Shutterstock/P-fotography

Best of all, you really don’t need a green thumb to grow lemongrass. With minimal care, lemongrass delivers a hearty harvest that’s even easy to preserve (no tricky canning needed!). If you like to use fresh lemon flavors in your cooking, lemongrass is an herb worth growing.

The Basics

Lemongrass is a tropical herb, hardy only to Zones 8 and warmer. In other regions, grow lemongrass as an annual or in containers that you overwinter indoors (more on that below). Lemongrass grows quickly and spreads to fill a planting bed or pot. Expect a plant to reach a size of 3 to 5 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide in a growing season. If you go the container route, choose a 5-gallon or larger pot (minimum 14 inches across). Use too small a pot, and lemongrass roots will likely break it. With ample water and fertilizer, these roots bulk up and spread out.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Pushish Images

Shutterstock/Pushish Images

Growing Lemongrass

Sun—This tropical herb craves lots of sun, even in Southern gardens.

Water—Lemongrass grows best with abundant moisture, but not soggy soil (think tropical downpours).

Soil—Amend clay soil heavily with compost or rotted manure to improve its ability to drain. Fill pots with a quick-draining standard potting mix made for containers. Something enriched with peat moss, fir bark or coir offers the ideal texture for roots to thrive.

Fertilizer—Feed plants monthly throughout the growing season using fish emulsion or a standard 20-20-20 plant food.

Using Lemongrass In the Garden

Treat lemongrass like an ornamental grass. Use it to create an informal screen—in pots or beds. In planting beds, space plants 18 to 24 inches apart. Lemongrass creates a nice edging for a path or driveway; just be sure to position plants so they have ample room to spread. Or draft lemongrass to add a strong vertical element to planting beds.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Travel_Master

Shutterstock/Travel_Master

What to Do with Lemongrass in Winter

In cold zones, dig a few stalks of lemongrass and pot up to grow indoors through winter. Remove leafy tops, leaving 5 to 6 inches above the stalk base. Plant in a container and place in a south-facing window or under grow lights to encourage growth through winter. Leaves will likely grow just a few inches, but you can harvest the fresh flavor.

Another option is to place potted lemongrass in a cool, dark place for winter and let it go dormant. Water occasionally—just enough to keep the roots alive. In spring bring pots into a sunny spot and resume watering.

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