Lemon Grass

Lemon grass is not hardy over winter in the UK but it can be grown successfully in pots as long as you bring them indoors in the colder months or they are kept in a conservatory or greenhouse year round. Lemon grass is used in a lot of Thai cooking and is also grown as an ornamental. The leaves have a lovely, strong, lemony smell.

Growing lemon grass:

Lemon grass is warm weather plant and if you are growing it from seed you will need to allow it to germinate in a heated propagator between late-January and March. Often, however, it is easier and more reliable to source cut stems from a supermarket or Asian shop, or if you are lucky, you may be able to find a growing plant in a garden centre or plant nursery. If you are using cut stems, make sure to find examples that have not been over-trimmed. Place the stems in water to allow the root system to properly regrow before potting up.

Lemon grass must be watered will in the summer months as it does not like to dry out. However, do not over-water or the roots and stems may begin to rot. It is best to plant the lemon grass in a loam-based potting compost. The plant should be left in full light but protected from the fiercest direct sun. The lemon grass will like some humidity so if growing in a greenhouse or polytunnel, be sure to water down paths to keep the air moist – though you should also ensure adequate ventilation.

Lemon grass will appreciate a liquid feed every now and then throughout the spring and summer. In the winter, it is especially important to avoid over watering.

To harvest, cut off one stem close to the root and use 10-12cm of the stalk from the base up, discarding the outer leaves of the stem.

Why grow lemon grass in the garden?

The strong essential oils of lemon grass have many medical, culinary and cosmetic uses, making them a valuable plant for the garden of someone trying to live a more sustainable life. They have a wide variety of kitchen uses and can allow for some more exotic cuisine than traditional herb garden fare.

As well as being useful, lemon grass also has a wonderful fragrance and a pleasing appearance which can enhance your garden, greenhouse or a windowsill indoors. It is possible that lemon grass may distract or repel cutworms, though more field evidence is required to prove this finding.  

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Cymbopogon citratus