Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates) is not a difficult plant to grow and it fits into many different areas of the landscape. It can be used in beds when several plants are grouped together. It can also be planted in the herb garden and in containers. While this plant is not cold hardy, the slender spires do turn red in the fall.
Lemongrass can be propagated in two different ways. The first way is through seed propagation and the second is through rooting. Both techniques take time and will not produce immediately.
Lemongrass seed is readily available in many seed catalogues and nurseries. When purchasing this seed though, make sure you are buying the culinary version or Cymbopogon citrates.
Once you have the seed, the process is pretty simple. First, prepare a flat or container by filling it with premoistened seeding medium or vermiculite. After that is done, sprinkle the seed over the surface of the soil and cover the seed with ¼ inch of seeding medium. Place clear plastic or glass over the container and place on a sunny windowsill.
Lemongrass seeds germinate the best when the environment is kept around 70 to 75 degrees F. In about 21 to 40 days, one should begin to see green dots appearing on the soil surface. After this happens, remove the plastic or glass covering and monitor the soil moisture. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant into containers that are 3-inches in diameter or thin so that the seedlings are 34- to 40-inches apart.
Starting lemongrass from leaves requires one to make a trip to the Asian market. Select lemongrass that has the bulb still attached and fresh looking. What you want to root is the same one that you want to eat.
Once you get the lemongrass home, remove any dead leaves and cut the top back. Fill a clear jar with water and place the bulb end into the water. Make sure that the bulb is always touching water. Place the jar on a sunny windowsill and change the water several times a week.
It is not uncommon to see growth of the vegetation before you see root development. Once the roots are 2-inches long, plant in an area that is well drained and sunny. If you are going to plant it in a container, simply fill the container with an all-purpose potting soil mix and plant as usual.
Fertilize once a month with a balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10.
Lemongrass is easy to bring inside in the fall. It does best when it is kept around 45 degrees F. This will mimic the natural fall and winter environment that this plant needs for proper growth.
While this plant is considered a tender perennial, it will not tolerate cold temperatures even with mulching.