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How to Grow Lemongrass in Your Home Garden

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jul 16, 2020 • 2 min read

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Ron Finley Teaches Gardening

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus or Cymbopogon flexuosus) is a fragrant herb that is common in Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, East Indian, and West Indian dishes. You can find fresh lemongrass stalks for sale in Asian grocery stores, but it's also easy to grow lemongrass plants at home.

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Ron Finley Teaches GardeningRon Finley Teaches Gardening

Community activist and self-taught gardener Ron Finley shows you how to garden in any space, nurture your plants, and grow your own food.

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How to Grow Lemongrass in Your Home or Garden

Lemongrass is a tropical plant that is easy to grow as an herb or ornamental grass.

  1. Check your climate. Lemongrass grows readily in warm, humid climates—particularly tropical regions such as Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka, and the Caribbean. You can still grow it as a tender perennial in most zones. Just ensure that you have a garden location where it can get full sun.
  2. Start fresh lemongrass stalks in water. Lemongrass stalks will naturally sprout roots if left in water, so the easiest way to grow lemongrass is to start with mature stalks from a grocery store. To get started, simply place a few lemongrass stalks in a glass jar filled with room-temperature water and wait for roots to emerge. This could occur in a matter of days or a matter of weeks, depending on the condition of your stalks. If you don’t have access to fresh lemongrass stalks, you can start lemongrass from seed.
  3. Transplant the lemongrass. Look for new green leaves to emerge from the stalks, which will indicate that the plant is healthy. From here, transplant the lemongrass to either your outdoor garden or into an indoor pot. Plant lemongrass stalks in holes about six inches deep, and space each plant at least two to three inches apart. If growing lemongrass as a houseplant, place it on a south-facing windowsill.
  4. Enrich the soil with compost. Lemongrass grows best in loamy, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, but it is hardy enough to live in clay soil as well.
  5. Ensure that the soil stays moist. Water your lemongrass plants regularly. Once your plants are established, spread mulch around the base of each plant to help retain water. Avoid letting water pool around your lemongrass plants, as it can cause root rot.

How to Harvest Lemongrass

Harvesting lemongrass by gripping a stalk near the base and pulling straight up. Only harvest lemongrass stalks as you need them, and leave the rest of the plant to continue growing.

Once harvested, lemongrass can enhance a wide array of foods. Steep the leaves in hot water to make lemongrass tea. Use the white inner cores of lemongrass stalks stir-fries and soups. You can also finely dice lemongrass and place it in a muslin bag to steam with rice. Lemongrass (along with its close relative citronella) makes for especially potent essential oils.

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Grow your own food with Ron Finley, the self-described "Gangster Gardener." Get the MasterClass All-Access Pass and learn how to cultivate fresh herbs and vegetables, keep your house plants alive, and use compost to make your community - and the world - a better place.

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