Planting Lemon Grass – A Growing Guide

Lemongrass is a lovely fragrant plant, that is easy to take care of. Lemongrass has a lemon-citrus cent and can be used as a delicious herb. It’s most common use is as a seasoning in Asian cuisine, and it also works very well as a tea. Lemongrass tea is said to be a home remedy for certain conditions, because of its aromatic qualities, and its high concentration of antioxidants. Lemongrass essential oil is also used for its many homeopathic benefits as well.

VARIETIES
Lemongrass comes in two main varieties, which are East Indian and West Indian. East Indian is known for having deeper red stems, and thinner stocks. While West Indian have thicker greener stocks, and is more commonly used for culinary purposes. They have few subtle differences and are grown under the same conditions.

WHEN TO GROW
Lemongrass loves hot and humid climates. Lemongrass is a perennial in growing zones 10 and warmer but can be grown as an annual in cooler climates, though it may be difficult to grow outside in the cooler zones. If planting outside, plant lemongrass after the danger of frost has passed. Lemongrass takes about 100 days and sometimes 4-8 months to be ready for harvest. Lemongrass also can be grown indoors at any time, and is beautiful in a pot.

WHERE TO GROW
Lemongrass thrives in swampy conditions it prefers warm, moist and humid conditions. Grow lemongrass outdoors only in hardiness zones 9 and warmer. Grow lemongrass indoors year round in a very sunny window. If growing in containers, you’ll likely want at least 5 gallons of space for the plant to get to the size you want it to be. Lemongrass should be grown in full sun and should receive a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight per day although it will still grow a little slower in 3-5 hours as well.

SOIL
Lemongrass should be planted in wet, fertile soil. Try to avoid soil with heavy clay. Fast drainage is key. Add lots of mature compost before planting. It will do fine in a range of soil pH, 5.0-8.0.

PLANTING AND DIVIDING
The best way to start a lemongrass plant is from root cuttings from well established stalks. The stalks should be strong, firm and green. Put the bottom inch in a glass of water and set them in a sunny window. Roots should begin to sprout within two weeks. Plant in soil once the roots are 1 – 2 inches long, usually after about 4 weeks.

Transplants should be spaced 3 feet apart and while planting remember they can grow 6 feet tall, though you can always trim them shorter if need. The soil you plant it in should be compost enriched. Wait until after the last frost before transplanting.

If you have a plant that is already started its pretty simple just dig a hole in appropriate soil roughly the same size as the container the plant is currently planted. Remove plant from soil trying to keep as much of the original as you can and place it in the hole. Water well so it settles snug into its new home.

WATERING
Water lemongrass frequently. It’s hard to over water a lemongrass plant, it is used to constant moisture, but it will not tolerate dried out roots, that is the fastest way to kill your plant. No need to keep the soil muddy, but definitely keep it moist. In very dry areas, you should mist the leaves with a spray bottle consistently.

FERTILIZING
Lemongrass needs a lot of nitrogen in order to thrive. For best growth use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer on it every few weeks. Be careful if you are planting lemongrass with other plants, because a lot of plants don’t do well with that much nitrogen.

HARVESTING
You can begin harvesting lemongrass once it has grown to 1 foot tall. Harvest entire stalks by slicing them off at soil level, below the swollen ends. The stalks you harvest should be from the outside of the plant and make sure the stalks are at least ½ inch thick. You should not break them off by hand, it is better to cut them off,  You might need to peel off the outer layer of the stalks before you use them if they are too firm or dry.

TIPS & ADVICE
Lemongrass is a fragrant plant. I recommend planting lemongrass in places that you will smell them. The pleasing smell of lemongrass works well in back yards, along walkways or driveways, or even in your home.

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