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Growing lemongrass is easy. As in really easy — and a lemongrass plant is a pretty addition to gardens, too. Lemongrass is an herb commonly grown in tropical regions. Its strong lemon flavor is a common ingredient in Asian foods and is used to give soups, stir-fries, and tea a little extra zing.
1. When to Plant
When you plant lemongrass may depend on whether you’ll be growing it outdoors or inside. If planting outside, wait until the last frost has passed. However, if you plan to keep your lemongrass plants in pots indoors, you can grow them at any time. Spring or early summer is the perfect season for starting these plants.
2. Planting Zone
You can grow lemongrass in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 12. It does well as a perennial planted outdoors in a no-frost climate, preferably in a tropical or swamp-like area. The plant enjoys good watering and part to full sun. However, you can still grow lemongrass in a colder region as an annual in containers and transfer the pots inside during the winter.
If your plants are outside, find a full-sun location with at least six hours of sunlight or partial shade. They’ll do well next to your patio or under a tall tree that can protect them from the elements. However, if they appear withered, relocate them to a shadier area.
Keeping lemongrass in containers is easy in a sunny spot as well, and you can place your pots on the patio in the spring and move them into a sunny kitchen window for the winter. A sunny window indoors, such as the kitchen, is another great spot for it.
Plants that receive less than the recommended six hours of sunlight per day may survive. However, expect the plants to grow much slower. Less than 3-5 hours of sunlight will kill off lemongrass plants.
When selecting soil, avoid a type that will dry out. Look for a well-draining bagged soil mix that retains moisture. A loam mixture with a pH balance between 5 and 8 works fine—just make sure the soil will drain well.
How to Plant Lemongrass
The easiest way to start a lemongrass plant is to propagate from an already established plant’s root cuttings. The stalks on the plant should be green, healthy, and firm to the touch before you take the cuttings.
Simply cut off a small piece around an inch or two long from the stalk with a pair of clean shears, and place it in a glass of water. Keep the glass in a sunny window while the roots form, which takes around two weeks to sprout. Then, you can plant the lemongrass in the soil after around four weeks or so.
4. Space Between Plants
Make sure to leave at least 70 centimeters of space between single plants to account for future growth. Rows of around 60 centimeters work with a minimum 90-centimeter row gap in between rows.
5. Planting Outside
Once the last frost has passed, you can plant lemongrass outside. Place each transplant at least three feet apart from each other, leaving room for the plants to reach their maximum height of six feet.
6. Planting in Containers
If planting in containers, you’ll want to leave 5 gallons of space. You can always trim the plants back as well or transplant them into either a large container or plant them outside. If the roots become too crowded in a clay container, for example, the pot can crack.
If starting your lemongrass from a purchased plant, grow it in the container until the soil is warm enough for transplanting in the early summer.