When you learn how to produce lemongrass in a greenhouse, all you have to do is plant it, keep it in good condition, and harvest it. Even novice gardeners can easily follow these three simple processes, which are made even easier by the use of a greenhouse. You can use a greenhouse to raise the internal temperature of the lemongrass, which grows best in zones 9 to 10.
Plant hardiness and your growing area are critical considerations for greenhouse gardeners. Lemongrass is native to nations like India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand, therefore you can assume that it won’t thrive in colder climates. In this case, the use of a greenhouse can be advantageous, either as a kind of protection or for the entire growth period.
What Is Lemongrass?
Lemongrass belongs to the Cymbopogon genus and is a delicate perennial grass.
Outside of Zones 10 and 11, this herb can only grow as a perennial due to its tropical origins. Bring it inside over the winter if you live in a Zone 9 or below area and you can keep it as a perennial.
There are several different species of “lemongrass” that people may be referring to when they use the term. Citratus cymbopogon and Cymbopogon citratus are two varieties of lemongrass found in the West Indies and East Indies, respectively (C. flexuosus). Aromatic citrus scents can be found in both of these species, which are utilized in cooking.
C. nardus and C. winterianus are two other closely related species that share many characteristics. Both of these are varieties of citronella grass, which can be used to prevent pests in the garden, but are not commonly used in cooking. Unlike lemongrass, their aroma is more grassy and musky.
Multiple stems emerge from the same root as lemongrass grows in clumps. It can reach a maximum height of five feet and a maximum width of four feet.
You can use the plant’s slender, arching form to give visual interest and texture to your landscape.
The leaves and stalks of this herb are both edible and aromatic, and are used in a variety of cuisines. As the name suggests, both have a distinct citrus aroma and flavor that is evocative of lemon.
Soups and curries can benefit from the flavor of the leaves and stalks, but because they can be fibrous, they are removed from the dish after cooking.
At least half an inch in diameter the stalk’s sensitive inner core is the most appreciated portion of this plant.
Initially, immature stalks are mostly made up of fibrous leaves, but as they mature, a soft center appears, which can be diced and cooked with without removing the fibrous leaves.
Cultivation and History
South and Southeast Asia are the natural habitats of this kind of grass. According to Sri Lanka’s Department of Export Agriculture, the Philippines was the first country to mention lemongrass oil in the 17th century.
This herb is thought to have been introduced to Jamaica in the late 1700s. Commercial production in the United States began in Florida in the early 1900s.
Cooking and therapeutic uses are common in many countries. Also rich in phytochemical components like as saponins, phenols, and alkaloids, it has a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
Citral, one of the volatile oil molecules that also contains monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, is responsible for the citrus aroma.
Lemongrass essential oil has antibacterial qualities and is commonly consumed by people. Sore throats, rheumatism, and digestion problems may be helped by the oil, according to 2011 research published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology and Research.
In addition, a tea brewed from the leaves or stalks is said to help alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties, stress, and bladder problems.
Southeast Asian cuisines like Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese use it the most in the kitchen, giving their dishes distinctive citrus overtones.
How to Grow
If you live somewhere where it gets too cold, your lemongrass will go to seed. All year round, you can grow it outside in Zone 10 or above. There isn’t a lot of maintenance required when it’s been established.
Zone 9 and below gardeners will need to safeguard their plants from the elements. Growing it in a container is the most convenient option. This manner, if the weather becomes chilly, you can bring your containers indoors to keep them from freezing.
Lemongrass thrives in full light and wet, well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter, whether you’re growing it in the ground or in containers.
Plants that are started from seed can be harvested 75-100 days after they are sown.
The plants will keep growing and provide year-round interest in the garden if you don’t harvest them after this stage. They can be removed and composted after the first frosts of the season. It’s important to remember that if they have enough space, they can grow up to four feet in diameter!
- Ensure that your plants have plenty of room to grow and develop
- Bring them inside if it’s going to be cold or frozen.
- For arid places, spritz the leaves with a water hose to keep them moist. You should water your plants when the soil is dry to an inch below the surface if you are growing them in pots.
How To Grow Lemongrass From Seeds
Seeds are a superior method of propagating lemongrass than cuttings. Seeds should be germinated within six months of harvest if they are completely dry.
Due to their short shelf life, lemongrass seeds gathered from January to February need to be sown in the nursery in April or May.
Planting the seed in a seedbed necessitates a 1:3 mixture of sand, peat moss, and perlite, with the seeds partially covered in soil. Water the seedbed every day and anticipate the seeds to germinate in 5 to 7 days.
Prepare The Planting Essentials
Choosing to cultivate lemongrass in a container does not necessitate a lot of time or effort. As long as the pots have holes in the bottom for appropriate drainage, you can use any material.
It prefers a mix of sand, perlite, and peat moss as its planting media. In the early stages of seed germination, a growth medium that drains well but requires frequent watering is ideal.
When To Water Lemongrass
Container-grown lemongrass needs less water than seed-grown lemongrass, but it still has to be watered regularly. Choosing the right potting mix for container-grown lemongrass is essential, and composting can help as well.
Watering your plants on a regular basis is crucial. Using mulch over the surface of the soil can assist keep the soil moist during periods of rapid soil drying, such as in hot weather.
For gardeners who live in colder locations, growing lemongrass in containers is a good choice. During the winter, you may easily bring the plants indoors.
During the winter, all plants, whether they’re in the ground or in containers, will cease to grow. Plants in hibernation require only half the water they do throughout the summer. In order to avoid mildew problems, make sure the lemongrass is properly ventilated when it is being stored throughout the winter.
Take Advantage Of The Early Growing Season
After the last frost date, you can transplant your lemongrass seedlings outside from your indoor pots.
It takes 90 to 120 days for lemongrass to mature and be ready for harvest if the outside air temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
The Best Climate For Lemongrass
The leaf citral oil concentration of lemongrass plants is higher in sandy soil, where the pH ranges from 5.5 to 7.5. To produce the best citral oil, the plant needs a constant daytime temperature of 25-30°C.
Lemongrass grows in a climate that is both hot and humid. It enjoys a wide range of rainfall, but favors amounts between 2500 and 3000 millimeters.
Using hydrogen peroxide solution as a rain-fed alternative to grow lemongrass indoors can assist maximize the plant’s potential.
Lemongrass is best grown in soil that has been contaminated by salt and in plantations with 30 percent shade.
Encourage A Quick Germination
Covering the container with plastic wrap will help seeds germinate faster by providing the necessary heat and humidity. At least six hours of sunlight should be provided each day.
Additional lights can also be used to speed up germination by positioning them six inches above the pot. Lemongrass seeds will only occasionally sprout if you do this.
As soon as the seeds have germinated, keep them growing indoors for the next seven weeks.
Poke holes in the plastic wrap to allow air to enter and slowly circulate in the container that is being covered. Let the seedlings adjust to their new habitat by doing this first.
Here are a few tips to help you learn how to germinate and sow lemongrass seeds successfully. (Important)
- The seed tray should be filled with a wet mixture of peat moss, sand, and compost that has been thoroughly soaked. The seedling tray should have a gap between the soil and the rim of the tray of around 12 to 1 cm.
- Lemongrass seeds should be sown at a depth of 14 inches and at a 1-inch spacing.
- A little dusting of dirt will help the seeds germinate more quickly.
- Using a garden hose, wet the newly planted lemongrass until the soil is only slightly damp.
- Make sure the seed tray is thoroughly covered and sealed with plastic wrap. The heat generated by this will speed up the germination process.
- The tray should be placed on a windowsill that is directly exposed to the sun in order to get enough sunlight.
- When the seeds have sprouted, cut small holes in the plastic cover to allow the seedlings to acclimate to their new environment.
- After three days, remove the plastic wrap and water the lemongrass seedlings once a week. The soil should be moistened until it reaches a moderate level of saturation.
- After the risk of frost has passed, move them to a larger container and space them approximately 2-3 inches apart.
- Allow adequate room for lemongrass to grow in the container.
- Keep the soil well watered. If you’re growing your plants in containers, just water them when the dirt is dry about an inch below the surface.
Re-Potting Your Lemongrass
It’s possible that you’ll need to repot your lemongrass at some time if you’re growing it in containers. In the fall, re-potting lemongrass is the best time. Before the weather dips below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you can bring the plants indoors.
When bringing the plants indoors, make sure to put them in a place with lots of natural light. If you find up with more lemongrass than you anticipated, consider sharing it with your friends or neighbors. Don’t worry, you’ll have lots more by next summer.
Lemongrass does well in a pot with a diameter and depth of 8 inches. In tropical countries, these plants can grow much larger than the container pots. Lemongrass should be re-potted every year or two.
Lemongrass repotting isn’t difficult at all. Plants that have been neglected for a long time may be difficult to remove because of their extensive root systems.
You may have to use more effort to remove the plants, and the old container pots may be damaged as a result.
So, here are a few basic actions you can do to make repotting lemongrass easier.
- Pull the root ball out of the pot by tilting it.
- Make sure the roots aren’t too compressed by gently teasing them.
- Split the root ball into two or three halves with a serrated knife.
- Each new area should have eight 8-inch pots ready to go.
- Drainage holes are a must in the pot you choose.
- The bottom third of the pot should be filled with a growing media.. It doesn’t matter what kind of potting soil you use (as long as it’s ordinary)
- Get your pot ready by placing some of the growing media in it and then placing a lemongrass segment on top. New transplants should be securely fixed in their new pots by adjusting the soil.
- Refill the pot to the brim with dirt and then soak it well with water. Place the pots in a bright area and repeat the process for each part.
When To Trim Your Lemongrass
Lemongrass may grow up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet broad in a warm, humid environment. Maintaining a plant’s resilience and promoting new growth can be achieved by pruning it regularly.
Lemongrass can be controlled in Asian countries by cutting it for culinary purposes, but it grows so quickly that pruning is required.
There may be some dead leaves and stalks near the base if your lemongrass has been neglected for a long time.
Remove any dead stalks or leaves that may be present. Trim and shape the size of your plant to make it more manageable after all of the remaining portions are greens.
It’s advisable to remove and clean up the dead sections surrounding the plants first, and early spring is the optimum time to trim your lemongrass.
Lemongrass has a rapid growth rate. Instead of suppressing new plant growth, a 3-foot cut will stimulate it. Trimming can help keep the size of the plants in check.
In colder climates, lemongrass goes dormant in the winter, with its leaves turning brown and falling off. Trimming and removing dead leaves is best done in early spring.
Pruning: Cut to the fragile white section of the stem if you want to keep the plant healthy. However, it begins to develop new growth before you know it to serve and provide for you its function.
Harvesting Stalks and Foliage
Lemongrass stalks and leaves are widely used in both culinary and medicinal applications. Lemongrass can be harvested after the plant reaches about 12 inches in height and the narrow leaves have fully opened.
When picking, you can cut, twist, or break off the stalk. Keeping in mind that the lowest portion is the most pliable, it is best to lift closer to the ground level when doing so.
Harvesting the plant’s foliage with sickles, which cut around 10-20 cm above ground level, is another option.
Remove all the leaves and the woody outer section after you’ve collected the required number of stalks. It’s up to you whether you want to retain the leaves for later use or throw them in your compost bin. Prepare your dish by slicing the tender section of the stalk and adding that to the mix.
Lemongrass is a key element in many hot Asian dishes, and its citrus tang lends a mild taste to many spicy Asian dishes.
During the winter months, the whole stalk parts are kept for soups and other recipes, and dried leaves are consumed as a tea in many Asian households.
A good rule of thumb is to keep plants from flowering if they are to be used in food or medicine preparations. The subsequent harvest will suffer as a result of blooms being produced:
Lemongrass is best harvested when the sun is shining, as rain and fog deplete the oil content of the leaves, resulting in a bland flavor.
Rainy seasons are the best time to stock up on Lemongrass, since they provide an aromatic flavor with a more delicate aroma than those that occur during the summer months.
In order to use leaves for medicinal purposes, you should wait at least 60 to 90 days between harvests. Leaf oil of poor quality is produced when harvest intervals are less than 60 days.
In the first year of planting, 2-3 times is reasonable for a large crop; in the second year, 3-4 times is reasonable for a large yield.
Harvesting The Seeds
Lemongrass seedlings are a common goal for some herb gardeners. Seed-producing plants are usually permitted to grow uncut and stalks and leaves are not harvested. It is quite rare for lemongrass to develop any seeds if it is constantly disturbed.
Lemongrass seeds are produced by cross-pollination. A distance of 300-400 meters separates the two species in order to ensure the maximum possible genetic purity.
From October through November, the plants often begin flowering, and mature seeds can be harvested in January or February.
Lemongrass seeds are harvested by cutting the blossoms and drying them in the sun. Using a thrashing motion on the floor, dried flowers will be collected for seed. Others prefer to harvest the seeds by pounding them with a stick.
In order to prevent mold, the fluff, or seeds, are dried properly and stored in burlap sacks lining polyethylene.
When the right conditions are in place, you may expect to harvest roughly 25 kg of lemongrass seeds per acre.
Health Benefits Of Lemongrass
Grown for more than its flavor, lemongrass, or Cymbopogon citratus, is a useful ornamental grass. Since growing plants in a greenhouse is so simple, the health advantages much outweigh the work involved. Lemongrass, for example, can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically for a variety of health benefits.
Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic properties describe this scented grass. It has antioxidant properties and can help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Dandruff and rheumatoid arthritis can both be relieved by applying lemongrass oil directly to the skin.
How To Make Lemongrass Tea
Making fresh lemongrass tea is simple, especially if you have access to a greenhouse where you may harvest the plant year-round. Anxiety, tension, oxidative stress, healthy digestive, urinary and cardiovascular systems, and weight loss can all be alleviated by sipping this calming tea. Lemongrass can be grown in a greenhouse and used to make tea.
Stalks that have just been harvested can be boiled and steeped in hot water to extract their flavor. After five minutes, remove the stalks and squeeze off the liquid. In the end, you’ll have an invigorating citrus tea that you can enjoy every day.
Honey and ginger can also be added to lemongrass tea to enhance the flavor and provide additional health benefits. To make this drink even more refreshing on a hot day, you can add some ice cubes to the mix.
Managing Pests and Disease
When it comes to pest and disease pressure, this crop is one of the least difficult to cultivate. Citronella, a naturally occurring pest-repelling component, is the primary reason for its low pest attack rate.
Lemongrass Rust (Puccinia nakanishikii)
Only a fungus known as lemongrass rust poses a serious disease danger to these plants (Puccinia nakanishikii). It is common for the leaves to show brown, red and yellow streaks due to overly wet and moist weather.
Prune out infected sections of your plants if you notice rust on them.
Rust can be avoided by keeping plants far enough apart so that air can move freely between them.
Yellow Sugarcane Aphid (Sipha flava)
With the exception of one persistent aphid, most pests avoid this plant. Yellow and around 2 millimeters in length, this pest is unique. Leaf patches that are yellow or brown are the result of it sucking sap from the leaves.
To get rid of aphids from your plant, use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or a burst of water. Read about aphid management at this link.
Recipes and Cooking Ideas
There are several Southeast Asian cuisines that incorporate lemongrass. In many curry pastes, along with other ingredients like ginger and garlic, it plays an important role.
Remember, when using lemongrass as a seasoning, most of the plant’s components are removed before ingestion. Fibrous leaves and outer stalks are included here. You don’t have to remove the immature leaves when harvesting from younger plants.
Check out Foodal’s sister site for a recipe that uses lemongrass in a spicy and warming red coconut curry chicken with sesame noodles.
Lemongrass can also be used to make a refreshing tea. Ginger and hot water can be added to either fresh or dried leaves or stalks, depending on your preference. Ten minutes of steeping, straining, and sweetening with honey or sugar is all that is required.
Even if you don’t have access to aromatherapy oil, you can make your own essential oil from lemongrass. Using mature lemongrass stalks is required for this. The mature stalks, not the leaves, contain the highest quantities of oil, so throw away the leaves.
Trim and slice the stems into 12-1 inch pieces after carefully cleaning them. You can liberate the oils by using a mortar and pestle.
A neutral carrier oil, such as almond or grapeseed, can be used to preserve the crushed stalks.
Keep it in an area that gets a lot of sunlight for 2-3 days, gently shaking it once or twice a day to keep it fresh. After straining, keep the oil cool and dark.
Final Thoughts On Growing Lemongrass
Tropical plant lemongrass has a lemony flavor. This plant is well-known for its therapeutic uses as well as its aromatic citral content. This plant is a key element in a wide range of cuisines, particularly Asian.
Lemongrass may be cultivated in a garden or indoors in pots in a relatively short amount of time. All you have to do is meet their basic requirements, such as ensuring they get enough sunlight, good soil, and lots of water.
Lemongrass is commonly mistaken for a weed, yet it is nothing like the usual irksome weeds. You may grow them even in the corner of your yard, and the long spiky shape of the leaves makes them beautiful, especially when planted in mass. When this plant blooms, your garden will have a pleasant citrus perfume.
Lemongrass is virtually pest-free thanks to its strong lemony aroma. In fact, most natural insect repellents contain the plant as the principal active ingredient.
Lemongrass is relatively pest-free thanks to its anti-fungal and anti-microbial qualities. Then then, you’ll need to use caution when dealing with it. Sharp edges on the long, slender grass blades may cause irritation to the skin.
Lemongrass, on the other hand, is vulnerable to spider mites when grown inside. However, if the plants are given enough food and water, they become strong enough to fend off pests.
The honey bees love lemongrass, and it’s a great addition to your garden. It will attract butterflies and bees to your yard, making it more wildlife-friendly.
Lemongrass can’t grow in cold weather if it isn’t cared for. It’s possible to safeguard your lemongrass plants by sprinkling mulch around the base or digging them up and replanting them in a larger pot before the first frost.
Root rot can be prevented by keeping the soil moist but not soggy. After the risk of frost has passed, you can return the plants to the ground.
Lemongrass has grown in popularity around the world as a result of its use in Asian cuisine and the medical benefits it provides. Additionally, these citrus plants require very little time and effort to cultivate and maintain.
Please use the comments section below if you have any questions regarding cultivating lemongrass. Let us know if you’ve had a similar experience. We wish you much success in your gardening endeavors!