Growing food

Growing Lemongrass From Seed (Step by Step Guide)

Lemongrass is a fabulous plant to grow in your garden. It can be grown as a perennial in warmer areas or as an annual if your area experiences severe frosts. Just be appear that the lovely strappy leaves have a very sharp edge and can cut you if you’re not wearing gloves.

To grow lemongrass from seed:

  • Choose a location with well-drained soil and a pH of 6.5 to 7 in either full sun or part-shade.
  • Sow the seeds 1/8 of an inch (5mm) deep with a spacing of 12 inches (30cm).
  • Water well.
  • The seeds should start to germinate within 10 to 14 days.
  • Thin out the seedlings so that you have 1 plant every 12 inches (30cm).
  • Keep up the water and feed weekly with a good liquid fertilizer.
  • You should be able to start harvesting after about 3 months.
  • Cut off a stalk at soil level but remember to wear gloves.

How To Grow Lemongrass From Seed

It’s really quite easy to grow lemongrass from seed if you follow the basic steps described below.

1. Choose Your Location

Choose a warm spot in your garden, as lemongrass does enjoy the warmth. This can be in full sun or even part-shade. If you have an area that reflects heat, such as a brick wall, this is the perfect place to plant your lemongrass. If you don’t, just find a nice warm spot that’s away from high-traffic walkways. This is because the lovely grass-like leaves of lemongrass have very sharp edges and can give you paper-like cuts.

Ideally, you want your soil to contain plenty of organic matter and be well-drained with a pH of around 6.5 to 7.

2. Plant The Seeds

Lemongrass seeds should be planted around 12 inches (30cm) apart, as this will give the mature plant plenty of room to grow. Sow 2 to 3 seeds per planting hole to ensure that you get good germination.

Remember not to plant the seeds too deep. Lemongrass seeds should be sown no deeper than 1/8 of an inch (5mm). This is because the seeds are quite small, and the shoots have to break through the surface before the seed runs out of energy.

3. Thin Out Your Seedlings

Once the seedlings have emerged, it’s time to thin them out. You want to end up with one plant every 12 inches (30cm). Lemongrass is a clumping plant and needs a fair bit of room to be able to spread and grow plenty of those lovely stalks that we love to use in our cooking.

You can try and replant the seedlings that you’ve gently pulled out in another spot in your garden. Consider dotting these among your other vegetables or flowers as long as there’s enough room. Lemongrass is not only a great herb to use for cooking, but the plant is also quite ornamental and adds an extra dimension to your garden.

4. Water Regularly At First

Although lemongrass is fairly drought-tolerant, you do want to give it ample water while it’s getting established. You’ll also find that you’ll get better growth if you keep the soil relatively moist.

Additionally, you can add a layer of mulch around your plants to help conserve the soil moisture. Use something like hay, straw, or pea straw for this. This also helps to suppress weeds around the plants.

5. Fertilize Once A Week

Lemongrass does benefit from regular fertilizer applications. Consider using a liquid fertilizer that is specifically designed for herbs and vegetables, as this will have the right nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium mix.

Using a liquid fertilizer also means that you can combine your feeding with watering at the same time. This is always a good time-saver for busy gardeners.

6. Harvest Your Lemongrass

Your lemongrass should be ready to harvest in about three months from when you first sowed the seeds. You should wait to harvest your first stalk until each clump has fully established itself.

To harvest your lemongrass, be sure that you’re wearing gloves. Then cut a stalk from the main plant at ground level. This will also encourage the plant to produce more growth. Wash the stalk and remove a couple of the outer leaf sheaths and discard these.

Use the lemongrass stalk in your Asian recipes and keep the leaves to use in soups or to make tea with.

7. Regular Pruning Keeps Your Lemongrass Looking Good

You’ll find that as your lemongrass continues to grow, it will start to become a little unruly. If you like a nice tidy garden, you can remedy this with a hard prune in winter. Remember to wear gloves and then cut around two-thirds of the growth off. You can either use a sharp pair of garden shears or even a hedge trimmer to do this.

It’s also a good idea to regularly remove any dead foliage or browning stalks to keep your plant nice and trim, and clean.

How To Grow Lemongrass In A Pot

If you have limited space in the garden or you prefer to grow your lemongrass in a pot, this is also quite feasible. You want to choose a large pot that is quite deep. It should be a minimum of 12 inches (30cm) in diameter to accommodate the growth of the plant.

MokkieCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s what to do:

  • Fill your pot with good quality potting mix that contains plenty of organic matter and is free-draining.
  • Plant 2 or 3 seeds in the center of the pot being careful to not to bury them any deeper than 1/8 inch (5mm).
  • Water well.
  • Make sure that you keep up the water as pots do dry out very quickly.
  • If more than one seedling emerges, remove the weaker ones.
  • Feed your potted lemongrass weekly with a good quality liquid fertilizer.
  • Once the clump has become established you can start harvesting the lemongrass stalks.

Tip: Lemongrass contains citronella, and this is a great insect repellent. If you have a problem with insects such as mosquitoes in the summer, place a pot of lemongrass in your outdoor entertainment area, and it should help to keep these pests away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it easy to grow lemongrass from seed?

Lemongrass is amazingly easy to grow from seed, especially if you follow the steps above.

Do you need to soak lemongrass seeds before sowing?

It’s not necessary to soak lemongrass seeds before planting them.

How fast does lemongrass grow?

It can take around three months or even a little longer for lemongrass to reach the stage when you can harvest it if grown from seed.

Does lemongrass spread?

Lemongrass does spread to form a clump that can be around 2 feet (60cm) wide. It can also reach a height of 3 to 5 feet (90 to 150cm). That’s why we suggest choosing a deep pot if you want to grow your lemongrass in a container.

Can you grow lemongrass indoors?

Yes, you can. In fact, in colder climates, this is recommended. When grown indoors, make sure that your plant gets plenty of light and warmth. I wrote the article about growing lemongrass in the colder climates, you can check it here.

If you would like to know more about this topic, be sure to read the article that I wrote about growing lemongrass.

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