Lemongrass, also known as barbed wire grass, is a unique-looking perennial that gardeners usually plant to repel mosquitos.
That’s not the only advantage lemongrass is beloved for, however. This plant has also been proven to cure high blood pressure, stomach convulsions, and the common cold.
In case you find yourself inclined to get a lemongrass plant, our detailed guide is certainly the right place for you.
When caring for lemongrass, make sure that you keep the plant in a habitat that closely imitates its original one. This tropical perennial thrives in hot climates, high humidity, and rather wet soil.
To reap as many benefits as you can from your Lemongrass plant, you should keep an eye on it at all times. Since you don’t want your lemongrass to face health issues early on, you’ll need to do well by it. A good place to start is to know what type of lemongrass you’re planning to grow or which kind you already have.
Once you do that, you should keep the following care list in mind:
- Plant Lemongrass seeds during the spring
- Find an area that’s sunny and warm to store it in
- Avoid drafty and windy places as it may tip the tall leaves over
- Water regularly so that the top inch of soil remains wet
- Mix aged compost or mulch with the soil during the growing seasons
Lemongrass likes slightly wet soil as long as the soil isn’t fully waterlogged. In other words, the soil should be moist enough, but the plant shouldn’t be left to sit in water. As a matter of fact, lemongrass is rather drought-tolerant and can still stay alive without frequent watering.
Look at the habitats where lemongrass varieties are most likely to grow, for instance. Nearby wet soil and on the shallow edges of water gardens are just a few examples to mention.
In its native environment, lemongrass grows in well-drained, sandy, loam soil. This kind of soil doesn’t retain moisture for extended periods, unlike clay soil. Using the latter may lead to the rotting of the lemongrass roots or the deficiency of the soil’s nutrients.
Richness is yet another characteristic that your lemongrass soil should have. This can be achieved in several ways, the most basic of which is adding common soil amendments to your pot.
To begin with, we recommend using natural compost that you can easily make from your garden waste, such as grass clippings and dead flowers. You can also use manure and organic mulch to enrich the soil further.
Lemongrass should be watered every couple of days. A good rule of thumb, though, is to keep the top half inch (1cm) of the soil always wet.
To check this, dip just the fingertip of your index (or any other finger) into the soil. If you hit the coarse texture of the soil right then, your plant is fine.
In case more than half an inch (1cm) of the soil is moist, then you should consider skipping the watering session for that week. After all, a plant that’s sitting in water is simply waiting to get infested with pests, insects, or worse, fungi.
On the other hand, however, it does well to know that lemongrass plants can tolerate drought-like conditions just fine. Leaving the soil to dry out every now and then does no harm to your plant, meaning, don’t beat yourself up if you forget to water the plant once or twice.
One simple trick you can do is mix three inches (7.5cm) of your topsoil with mulch. These layers of organic compost will retain water and slowly release it into the soil whenever the plant needs it.
To harvest lemongrass without killing the shoot you should just cut the leaves. If you cut the given lemongrass shoot below the area where the leaves start, you will kill this shoot. If you want to harvest the whole shoot, together with the leaves, you should cut the shoot close to the ground.
If you planted the lemongrass from seed, it will be ready to harvest after 75 or 100 days at most, while the perennial stalk will take less (from 60 to 90 days). A good way to tell if your lemongrass is ready to harvest is when its leaves have become around 10 or 15 inches (25 to 38cm) tall. Each stalk needs to be quite thick as well, about half an inch (1cm) at least.
Don’t worry about cutting off young lemongrass leaves, either. Since it’s a fast-growing plant, removing young, fibrous stalks won’t affect the lemongrass’ health. Just make sure that you cut the leaves from the ground base of the grass.
After you’ve harvested your lemongrass, you’d want to store them in a glass jar and add room-temperature water. Remember, too, that you should only harvest your plants during their growing seasons.
Pruning, or cutting back dead leaves, is an essential part of plant care because it allows the plant to regrow once its dormant phase is over. With lemongrass, this typically happens once the weather turns cold, which is typically when you should cut back dead lemongrass leaves.
You want to start by raking out the brown leaves from under the plant. Keep in mind that you might need to get your hands dirty so you can pull the dead outer stalks. Before doing so, make sure you wear thick gardening gloves to avoid getting cut.
During the winter months, your lemongrass might not grow any further, but it’ll still need some care to ensure that it blooms back when the climate gets hotter.
Pruning is one thing, although you may also need to regularly mist the plant as well. Plus, you should aim to have the leaves be no longer than six inches (15cm) long while shearing them.
All lemongrass varieties enjoy a diet that contains high percentages of nitrogen. As such, the best fertilizer for lemongrass is one that’s slow-release and nitrogen-rich.
Additionally, these perennial species need to be fed at least once a month because they’re pretty fast-growing. The most appropriate time to feed your lemongrass is during its growing seasons, namely between early spring and late autumn. When it’s hot out, you’ll need to increase the number of times you fertilize your soil. Once a week should be enough.
Another great fertilizer option to consider is a balanced product that’s half-strong and highly soluble. Fertilizers with extensive amounts of liquid nitrogen or fish emulsions will hugely benefit your lemongrass as well.
Don’t forget that adding organic mulch, aged compost, or manure will also help improve the soil’s properties and improve the plant’s overall health.
Because lemongrass is native to Asian countries that are known for their hot and humid climates, this plant thrives in similar conditions. You can grow lemongrass as a perennial in a zone in a zone that’s 10 or higher since it doesn’t do well in frosty habitats.
Lemongrass varieties require at least six hours of sun in order to bloom faster. As a matter of fact, lemongrass doesn’t do well in the shade. Such a home will only encourage pests and insects to find your plant. Ideally, you want the temperatures surrounding your lemongrass to vary between 65 to 80℉ (18 to 26℃).
Finally, lemongrass enjoys high humidity levels. The plant may not like to sit in a lot of water, but it prefers to be misted and watered regularly so as not to dry out.
How do you keep Lemongrass Alive?
Planting your lemongrass in an area that matches its native habitat is the best way to keep the plant alive and well. That’s why you need to educate yourself on the proper conditions that this delicate perennial needs in order to thrive.
The three key elements you should always keep in mind include water, soil, and fertilizer. For starters, and as mentioned before, you need to water your lemongrass at least one time per week. The soil should be kept moist but not completely drowning in water.
As for the lemongrass soil, the standard, loamy kind should suffice. Additionally, you should opt for soil that’s well-drained and properly enriched. Waste from your garden makes for great organic compost and mulch that’ll allow your plant to grow quicker.
When it comes to feeding your lemongrass, you’d want to do this fairly regularly because this plant is rather fast-growing. Add fertilizer once a month outside of the growing seasons and each week throughout the summer.
On the other hand, for those whose lemongrass plants have gone dormant, you still need to keep it alive, to an extent, of course. Since you want your lemongrass to bloom come springtime, continue to feed, mist, and water it every now and then.