Intro: Lemongrass is a great plant for an edible garden or a kitchen garden. It grows well in plant containers and can be used fresh or dried in teas or in culinary dishes (it is popular in Asian cuisine). The stalk is used for cooking, and the leaves are used for teas. Lemongrass tea can be calming and soothe stomachs. A popular tea blend is “Sleepy Time Tea,” which is a mixture of lemongrass, lavender and German chamomile flowers. These fast-growing large plants can grow up to 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide, so make room for it in your small balcony garden.
Scientific name: Cymbopogon citratus or Cymbopogon flexuosus
Plant Type: Grass used as an herb
Light: Full sun
Water: Keep your lemongrass plant’s well-drained potting soil damp but never soggy.
Zone: Hardy to Zone 9 or 10 in the winter, so you will most likely want to grow your lemongrass as an annual or bring your container of lemongrass indoors for the winter.
Fertilizer: Fertilize every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer. You may want to add a boost of nitrogen once a month or so.
Pests and Diseases: The lemon scent of lemongrass will usually keep garden pests away, but cats love lemongrass and will chew on it if allowed to. Leaf blight may also affect your lemongrass.
Propagation: Propagate the lemongrass plant by taking cuttings. If you can’t find lemongrass at your local garden shop, you may be able to find lemongrass stalks at an Asian food market near you. Put the lemongrass stalks in water and wait for them to develop roots before planting them in the ground. You can also divide mature plants to propagate your lemongrass. You can grow from seed, but cuttings are the easiest way to propagate lemongrass.
Misc. Info: You may see several types of grasses, East Indian and West Indian. You can use either type for making tea or for use when cooking. To harvest your lemongrass for use, trim leaves once the plant is established (at least 1 foot in height). If you want to use the stalks for cooking, cut an outer stalk that is at least a half-inch thick right at the soil. Stalks can be kept in the fridge for several days or frozen. Leaves should be dried for future use.