If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, you may have used lemongrass before, particularly if you like oriental dishes.
But it’s really easy to grow for yourself and save some money on ingredients with your self-replenishing supply.
Read on for our handy guide on how to grow lemongrass.
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What is Lemongrass?
Lemongrass is a fragrant tropical grass that is widely used in Asian cooking. It is very similar to spring onions in appearance, with a swollen base, edible stem, and arching foliage. It can grow to a height of 5 ft (1.5 m) in the right conditions.
Chopped lemongrass stems are especially good for meat dishes and curries, or can be used in sauces to add a citrus-like flavor. The leaves can also be infused to make tea so, with lemongrass, nothing goes to waste.
1. How to Plant Lemongrass
You should start seeds out in small pots in spring. Gently press them down into some compost so that they are close to the surface, and then water the pot from below. They should be kept in a heated propagator until they germinate.
Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, arrange them three to a pot with some multipurpose compost and keep them on a bright windowsill. When roots begin to show through the bottom of the pot, move them to a larger one. You may need to do this several times as the seedlings grow.
Finally, move your lemongrass outside to a bright spot in early summer.
Growing Store-Bought Stems
You can even plant stalks of lemongrass found in your supermarket’s produce aisle. Place the lengths of stem in small pots in spring or summer and keep them in a sunny spot, watering regularly. The roots will grow fairly quickly and, once they emerge through the pot’s drainage holes, move them to a larger one.
2. Caring for Your Lemongrass
Keep your lemongrass well watered over the summer in a sheltered spot that gets plenty of sunlight. Then, in late summer, they need to be moved back indoors and kept in a bright, cool spot, and you should reduce watering to just enough to keep the compost moist.
Once the foliage begins to turn brown, cut it back to 4” (10 cm). New growth will begin in spring, at which point you should feed weekly with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
3. Harvesting Your Lemongrass
Lemongrass can be harvested all year round. Simply cut the stems as needed and trim off the leaves, retaining the bottom 3 to 4” (8 to 10 cm).
Re-pot a section of the stem in a smaller container and the rest can be prepared and stored in the fridge, though lemongrass is best used fresh.
Now that you know how it’s done, why not have a go for yourself? As you’ve seen, lemongrass is relatively easy to grow, and it can add a lot of flavor to a dish. If you follow the above advice, you could have a continuous supply of lemongrass to use in your own cooking for years to come.