How to Grow Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a plant that thrives well in places that have a tropical habitat. The plants prefer lots of light, heat and moisture. Also, the plant classifies a tropical herb, which has a strong citrus flavour. The unique taste of lemongrass makes it popular condiment in various cultures in Asia, and all over the world. It can be used in teas, sauces, soups and more. The plant grows as a tall and grassy clump, that can reach heights of 5 feet tall.
Native among many Asian countries, Lemongrass is among some of the most popular and useful herbs in the world.
Important Factors in Growing Lemongrass
Light and Water
In its native habitat, lemongrass does well in areas that have adequate sunlight. Six hours of sun each day will be sufficient for the plant`s energy needs. For gardeners growing lemongrass in greenhouses, you must regulate the quality and intensity of the light for the best results.
Unlike most ornamental grasses, lemongrass is a not a drought-resistant plant. Thus, you have to ensure the roots are moist to ensure the best development results. Using mulch can help to conserve moisture, and will also improve the quality of the soil. Any excessive moisture can easily lead to the development of mildew, which is known to compromise plant growth.
Soil and Fertilizer
Lemongrass plants thrive well in loam and rich soil. You can create the perfect soil conditions for lemongrass by using various elements such as manure, compost and leaf mould. All these are components that work to enrich the nutrient quality of the soil.
Due to its tropical characteristics, lemongrass survives in various types of zones, such as level 8 and up. In some areas, lemongrass survives as an annual plant, that can be tucked into pots.
Lemongrass does well with nitrogen fertilizers, which help to promote optimal plant growth. A good recommendation would be the 6-4-0 fertilizer, that can keep your plants healthy all through the growing season. Furthermore, you can also water the lemongrass with manure tea, and also incorporate some trace nutrients.
Temperature and Humidity
As a tropical plant, lemongrass survives well in humid and hot climates. Being able to put the plant in areas with well-regulated temperatures is important in the harvest quality and foliage. The time for growing lemongrass is usually similar to that of planting tomatoes. Furthermore, lemongrass is frost-sensitive, and you might have to plant it indoors over the winter.
Lemongrass is a hardy plant that grows to about 7°C/45°F so that you can plant it outdoors during the summer months. It grows well in a conventional garden, that is well-drained and can take a few weeks to mature fully.
In cold environments, the best way to grow the plant would be through the use of stalks. You can trim the stalks down to a few inches tall, and place them in small pots. Then, position the plants in a well-ventilated area, possibly close to the window. Another option would be to store the lemongrass in a cool and dark area, such as the basement. Remember to water the plant a few times, to keep the roots thriving.
Potting and Propagation
Use high-quality potting soil when you want to start a new batch of lemongrass. Consider using premixed potting soil, and use a time-release fertilizer. Using this approach is convenient and can help you save lots in extra cash. If the lemongrass plant grows in the same pot each year, consider repotting in spring to improve the soil quality.
As far as propagation goes, lemongrass is a plant that grows in clumps, which makes it simple to divide. You can consider combining the harvest and the dividing tasks because both might require digging procedures. Furthermore, each leaf fan is often attached to a bulb-like base with roots, and each can easily grow into a new clump. The choice is yours when it comes to determining the right size of each division. Also, replanting a division with five or six bulbs will be much more convenient than when using a single bulb.
Pruning and Harvesting
The pruning process is highly essential for herbs, and done right, will improve the foliage as well as the overall health of the plant. The best pruning approach for lemongrass would be to shear the plants to about six inches during the end of the winter season. The plant regrows fast and might encourage the growth of new shoots when the warm weather resumes.
As a fast-growing plant, you can harvest lemongrass when young without any adverse side effects on the plant growth process. While the leafy portions of the plant are sometimes challenging to each, you can always cut a few leaves to make some tea. Furthermore, the stalks are also edible, when minced or adequately cut.
Growing Using Containers or Seeds
The best container for growing lemongrass would be on average, 14 inches in diameter. This helps to accommodate the rooting system and to prevent a heavy plant from becoming frail. In cold environments, a single root division can grow well in a small pot, close to a well lit and ventilated area.
The seeds also germinate easily in moist and warm soil. The best approach would be to input the seeds into sterile potting and keep it moist until it reaches the germination stage. Usually, this occurs at about 9 to 14 days, when the plants achieve heights of about three inches tall.
What is the Difference Between Lemongrass and Lemon Verbena
While lemongrass and lemon verbena are perfect for preparing teas and more, both have different characteristics. Where lemongrass thrives well in areas with high moisture, verbena does well in dry regions. The lemon verbena often has elongated leaves, and it's not often grass. More so, unlike lemongrass, the verbena plant can produce small flowers, which are popular food condiments. The lemon verbena plants are also suitable for use in cold dishes, because the useful oil is delicate, and quickly evaporate when cooking.
Harvest and Storage
Lemongrasses is mostly harvested for its foliage, which often has a rich and lemony flavour. Thus, lemongrass is mainly used to prepare beverages or high-quality soup. The planting season bests starts when the plants average at 13 inches tall, and the stem bases measures ½ inch thick. You can cut the stalks to ground level, or perhaps hand pull a complete shoot for use. However, removing the entire stem will reduce the foliage, because it takes time to regrow.
The edible component of lemongrass is close to the bottom section of the stalk. You will have to carefully cut off the grassy part of the plant, and be cautious with the process. You will then harvest the leaves in a bundle and then add to a teapot for boiling.
Take the lemongrass base, and cut the outer fibrous layer to bring out the inner white component. To store the lemongrass, freeze it when chopped or whole. Also, you can make slicing easy by crushing the stem base by using a flat item. The main section of the stalk is often soft, thus making it easy to slice.
Lemongrass is most suitable for preparing various types of meals including Thai, Vietnamese and Asian Cuisine. You can use the tender inner stalk bases to make salads, sauces and stir-fries. You can freeze lemongrass by storing thinly sliced pieces in small tins. When you need to use it, pick off a few slices, and incorporate into your dishes accordingly.
The lemongrass is perfect for preparing marinades, and can also be boiled in water to make tea. Once you use the lemongrass, add the leaves to some compost, and puree them on some grass. To dry the leaves, place them together, and hang them facing down in a dark room. Then, store the harvest in jars that are tightly sealed. The dried lemongrass can retain its flavour for as much as one year.
Herbal tea, beverages and even dishes are increasingly becoming popular all across the world. The best way to get a reliable supply of herbs would be to start your garden. To be specific, you can start with this how-to grow lemongrass guide, which provides useful insight to take your gardening skills to the next level. Before growing lemongrass, ensure that you have a sterile pot of soil for optimal plant growth.
Lemongrass is simple to plant and can grow either through seeds or cuttings. More so, it does well in moist areas, and partly shady conditions, especially during the summer months. Unlike most herbs, lemongrass can retain its flavour for as much as one year, even when dried.