Photo by Jeremy Allan
As Asian cuisine grows in popularity, so does the herb lemongrass. The lemon-smelling leaves of this plant provide a citrus taste without the bite from actual lemon juice. If you’re interested in growing it yourself, it can easily be started from the herb you buy from your local supermarket. In just a short time you’ll have your own supply of this fragrant herb to add to your cooking delight.
Before You Plant
Choosing a Plant:
- The easiest way to obtain starter plants is at your local grocery store or Asian market.
- When selecting plants, choose the freshest available with long green leaves and plump bulbs on the end. Avoid any bunches that look dried out or wilted.
- Check the bases for any vestiges of roots as these are necessary for starting a plant.
Find a Suitable Place:
- An area with full sun is important for lemongrass to grow well. An area that is protected from winds is even better.
- The plants will spread as they grows, so allow some additional space surrounding the planting area.
Prepare the Soil:
- The soil should be rich and well-draining, amend heavy soil with plenty of compost.
What You Will Need:
- Lemongrass plants
- Small shovel
- Organic fertilizer (optional)
Steps for Planting:
- If your plants do not have roots, trim off the top couple of inches of leaves and remove any outer leaves that have expired. Place the bulb in a glass of water, in a sunny place, for a couple of days to allow roots to form.
- When roots have grown 1-2 inches, you can plant the bulbs into your garden.
- It is best to plant lemongrass in the spring after the last frost and the ground has started to warm.
- Place the bulb into the soil only up to the widest part of the bulb.
- Pat the soil to firm it around the bulb.
- Water thoroughly after planting.
- Fertilization is usually not necessary, but if you choose to fertilize, use an organic fertilizer since you will be eating the plant.
- Continue to water regularly. Ideally, the soil should be kept moist but not wet.
- Remove any weeds in the area.
Steps for Harvesting:
- As your lemongrass grows it will produce more stalks all season long.
- When you are ready to use some, simply remove a stalk, roots and all.
- Lemongrass dries out quickly, so harvest when you are ready to use or freeze it.
- Clean away any dirt and it’s ready to use. Depending on your recipe, nearly all parts of the plant can be used.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Be sure to divide the bulb from time to time to keep the plant from strangling itself.
- Lemongrass can easily be grown in containers for fresh herbs year-round.
- Lemongrass can be grown as a perennial in milder climates. When the first frost comes, cut off the dead leaves, but be careful not to cut too much.