What is Lemongrass?
Lemongrass is a perennial and tall growing grass, and its bulbs and lower stalks produce a lemony, and fresh scent. Its leaves are used to make broths, curries, marinades, and teas. According to folk medicine, lemongrass contains essential oils having important medicinal properties and therefore its leaves are used for curing numerous medical conditions. Lemongrass contains fibers, minerals (calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium) niacin, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin A. According to folk medicine, it is believed that the regular and optimal consumption of lemongrass is believed to be helpful in burning fats, reducing cholesterol levels, body detoxification, helping insomnia, curing fever, reducing aches, boosting immunity, treatment of infections, calming nerves, and alleviating fatigue, and anxiety due to stress.
Lemongrass grows in the form of dense clumps and produces blade-like and slender shaped, and stiff stems. Typically, the economic life span of this plant is four years, but it can grow for various years by the provision of ideal growing conditions, care, and management. Lemongrass produces base stems of red color and can grow up to the height of about 10 feet in favorable environmental conditions. Lemongrass grows well in rich and moist soil so its ideal growth can be promoted by improving soil health. Its roots can easily grow and take over in the lawns and gardens so growers must use physical barriers to prevent the interaction of its roots with the roots of other growing plants. There are various layers of the stalks of lemongrass and each layer is tightly wrapped around the core. Its top layers are green and tough. While the inner layer is white core and can be easily explored by peeling. Usually, the outer layer is removed, and the inner layer is used for cooking and medicinal purposes.
How To Grow Lemon Grass from Propagation/Cutting.
Lemongrass can be easily grown from the cuttings at home or in the living spaces. Growing lemongrass from the cuttings is simple and easy and you can also use the lemongrass purchased from supermarkets or stores. The stalk of lemongrass is enough to grow more plants and thus leaves should be stripped off from the cuttings. Additionally, there is no requirement to keep the roots along with the stalk because lemongrass has good capability to produce more roots.
Lemongrass cuttings can be easily grown both in the soil and water and growers can use any media according to the availability of materials and quality of available materials. If the cuttings have some roots these can be directly transplanted in the soil. However, if there are no roots in the stalk, it must be placed in the water-filled glass for a few days. Root emergence can be observed within days and this cutting can be used for further propagation.
Although, lemongrass cuttings can grow well in the water provided by optimal management. But the provision of aeration, management of pH, and application of liquid fertilizers according to the requirements of growing cuttings is a difficult task. Growers can get lush green, and healthy foliage by growing lemongrass in the soil. Addition of compost, and grow mix helps to produce better growth throughout the growing cycle because organic matter is a slow but steady source of nutrients.
How To Grow Lemon Grass from Seed
Growing lemongrass from the seeds is also pretty easy as it requires little or no specific management. However, seedlings must be kept in humid and warm conditions for the first few weeks of germination. Growers can easily get the seeds from any trusted dealers, friends, and neighbors. However, the use of contaminated and low-quality seeds must be avoided to reduce the chances of poor growth, insect pest attack, and disease development in the later stages of growth.
Seedlings require more nutrients and water to grow and are much sensitive to external climatic conditions and different types of stresses. Seedlings can be transplanted to the pots, or garden when these have reached a size of about 6 inches. The seeds of lemongrass are vulnerable and fragile so these seeds must be placed in a warm and dark place for about one to two weeks. Thus, seed sprouting can be accelerated easily in a warmer environment. The seedlings produced by this practice will be more vigorous, and healthy and will produce good growing plants.
After exposing seeds to a warm environment, the seeds can be placed in the seedling trays. The seeds must be inserted about ¼ inches deep in the growing media such as soil or perlite. The seeds must be covered with plastic bags or domes. Heat mats can also be placed beneath the seedling’s trays in the presence of cold climatic conditions. Growers must sprinkle the water on the seeds daily followed by the replacement of a plastic bag or dome. Domes can be removed from the trays after the emergence of seedlings.
Once the seedlings are reached to 6 inches in length these can be transplanted in the soil. The use of well-drained, good quality, rich and organic soil is essentially important to get excellent growth and development.
How to Properly Pot Lemongrass
Growers must select 300 mm deep and wide pots for potting lemongrass. The pots must be placed in partial shade or full sunny conditions. However, the selection of pot size is greatly dependent on the variety of lemongrass. The selection of pots with the holes at the bottom is essentially important to facilitate drainage. Moreover, the use of soil with good drainage properties is also important to minimize the effects of water retention in the soil. Growers must transplant the individual plants at least 24 inches apart to allow good growth and development.
Growing Requirements of Lemongrass
Lemongrass grows well in the well-drained, loamy, and rich soil. Growers can make the best quality soil by the addition of different amendments such as compost, organic matter, manure, and potting mix. The soil must be tested properly before using for growing lemongrass, because the presence of contaminants may cause negative effects on growing plants. The use of sandy and clayey soil is not recommended because sandy soils cause immediate leaching of water and nutrients below the root zone. Whereas, clayey soil offers poor drainage and may lead to the development of disease and pest attacks.
The best growth of lemongrass can be observed in the soil having a pH range between 6.5-7.0. The use of inorganic fertilizers and synthetic chemicals causes major fluctuations in the soil pH. However, the pH of the soil can be maintained in this range by the application of amendments and by reducing the use of synthetic chemicals.
Lemongrass enjoys intense and direct sun so it must be grown in sunny areas or partially shaded spots. This plant needs sunlight even during winter conditions so growers must plant it at the spots where growing plants can receive enough natural light. No exposure to sunlight causes browning of stems and compromised development.
If there is no sunlight in the specific climate or region, the plant can be grown in indoor conditions. the use of a light-emitting diode (LED) is a significantly important alternative to improve the growth of plants. However, direct contact between these lights and plant foliage should be avoided because it can cause burning.
Regular watering is important to practice to get the best growth and development of lemongrass. However, the watering schedule must be carefully designed according to prevailing climatic conditions and the requirements of plants. The moisture level in the soil must be tested before the next watering. Watering requirements are significantly less for the plants growing in the colder areas. Whereas plants growing in the hot and dry regions requires frequent watering. Heavy irrigations must be avoided as the main objective is to keep the soil moist. The best time for watering lemongrass is late in the evening and early morning. Watering must be avoided at noon as it can exert negative effects on growing plants.
Temperature and Humidity
Lemongrass grows well in humid and warm climates. However, the plants can also be grown in the colder regions by overwintering in the protected environments. Lemongrass loves humidity in the surroundings and growers can improve humidity levels by sprinkling water in the gardens and lawns. However, complete control over humidity is possible in indoor growing conditions by the use of humidifiers and dehumidifiers.
Tips for Growing Lemongrass
- Lemongrass is easy to grow plant and its best growth can be observed by minimal care and management.
- Ideally, it grows well in tropical and moderate climatic conditions but can be grown in other conditions in indoor spaces.
- Lemongrass can be grown in both outdoor and indoor conditions.
- Only one seedling or seed should be planted in the one-pot because too many plants cannot grow well in space-limited conditions.
- Pots must be placed in sunny spots or partial shade conditions so that plants can have enough sunlight for survival and growth.
- Use well-drained, rich, and moist soil to allow root development and growth.
- The use of organic fertilizers is greatly recommended than inorganic fertilizers.
- Irrigate the growing lemongrass when the soil is getting dried. Overwatering must be avoided because it may cause root rotting, disease development, and insect pest attack.
- Lemongrass thrives well in humid climates so good humidity should be maintained.
- Frequent watering is required for the plants growing in dry and hot climatic conditions.
- Lemongrass is extremely sensitive to cold climates and therefore its exposure to frost must be avoided.
- Growers must clear all the weeds because weeds compete with the plants for space and nutrients.
- Pruning is also helpful to improve the growth and development of lemongrass. So regular pruning must be practiced for ideal growth.
- Generally, first pruning is recommended after 5-6 months of planting. Whereas second pruning should be done after 1 year.
- The end of winter is an ideal choice for pruning lemongrass.
- The use of a sharp knife is essentially important to cut the slice of lemongrass.
- All dead grasses must be removed from the stalks to minimize any adverse effects on growing plants.
- Harvest lemongrass every six months. There is no requirement to wait for a specific season or time for harvesting. Moreover, young and tender plants can also be harvested for cooking.
- Use fork or hand towel for removing individual stalks with roots.
- Regularly inspect the plants for early detection of insect pests, nutritional deficiencies, and diseases.
- Lemongrass produces allelopathic compounds so their plantation along with other plants should be carefully planned.
- Lemongrass is more prone to spider mites so growing plants must be sprayed with insecticidal soaps or water.
- Powdery mildew can attack the growing lemongrass in the damp soil. This problem can be reduced by the use of organic fungicides.
How to Treat Root Rot and Other Diseases on Lemongrass
The common disease of lemongrass includes root rot, smut, grey blight, leaf blight, clump rot, leaf spot, and malformation of inflorescence. Little leaf disease is caused because of virus and causes size reduction of leaves and compromised flowering inflorescence. Rust attack causes browning of foliage and the appearance of yellow-colored faint spots on the foliage. Sometimes brown pustules can also appear on the foliage and if left untreated it can cause the death of plants.
The problem can be minimized by removing and dumping the infected plants. Careful removal is essentially important to reduce the further spreading of disease. Leaf rust causes the development of dark brown, stripe-like, and elongated lesions on both sides of the leaves. This problem can be reduced by spraying contact fungicides on the plants.
How to Deal With Insects and Pests on Lemongrass
The common insect pests of lemongrass include termites, nematodes, spittlebug, stem borer, and mealybug. A pest problem can be greatly minimized by maintaining neat and clean growing conditions. Usually, the pest attack causes root damage, stunted growth of plants, death of tillers, and drying of clumps. Grass bagworm is the most common insect pest of lemongrass and it produces sharp holes in the leaves by eating them roughly and unpleasantly.
Yellow sugarcane aphids and some other types of aphids are well known for sucking lemongrass leaf sap. Spider mites can easily attack the lemongrass in indoor growing conditions. The populations of these insects can be reduced by using neem oil, insecticidal soap sprays, and water sprays. Extensive care and management of lemongrass during winter is essentially important to minimize the probability of disease development and insect pest attack.
Integrated Management Practices to Reduce Diseases and Pests on Lemongrass
- Use organic fertilizers, mulches, and compost to promote the vigor and growth of growing plants.
- Maintain 24 inches of distance between the individual plants.
- Close plantation causes good habitat and hiding spaces for the insect pests. Moreover, no distance between plants also favors the fast-spreading of diseases.
- Purchase plants from trusted retailers only.
- Periodically thin, cut back, and prune the plants to stimulate disease-free growth.
- Immediately destroy the diseased plants.
- Never use the diseased or infected leaves as a mulching material for other plants or crops.
- Remove the weeds immediately after emergence.
- Use well-drained soils to avoid the water stress on growing plants.
- Reduce the use of overhead irrigation.
Why do mosquitoes hate lemongrass?
Lemongrass contains citronella oil that helps to repel mosquitoes from the surroundings. Although it is helpful to repel mosquitoes, its plantation does not cause complete repulsion of heavy infestation at homes and living spaces. Lemongrass contains citronella oil, but it is not released to the environment when the plant is still alive. However beneficial results can be obtained by planting many lemongrass plants in a specific space.
Lemongrass leaves can be used to make spray against mosquitoes. This spray can be made by adding lemongrass and water to the pots. The boiling causes the yellowing of water. The water must be allowed to cool and set for at least 24 hours. This mixture can be added to the spray bottle for further use. However, it must be protected from contamination as otherwise its effectiveness will be reduced.
However, the burning of lemongrass leaves is not helpful to repel mosquitoes. Burning its leaves may irritate the nose and bad smell at home so its burning must be avoided. Whereas the addition of essential oils to the above-mentioned prepared mixture is significantly important to get better results.
Citronella found in the lemongrass is not only helpful to repel mosquitoes but is also effective to deter Gants, ants, ticks, and flies. Planting lemongrass as a companion plant next to flowers and plants being affected by the nuisance pests is also an effective technique to protect them from insect pests. Furthermore, citronella extract can be sprinkled over the growing plants and smaller clippings can be added in the growing spaces to repel notorious insects.
Companion Plants For Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a good companion for numerous plants such as thyme, mint, marigold, lemon verbena, cilantro, basil, ginger, mangoes, turmeric, onion, and fennel. Other than this pepper, tomatillos, and tomatoes also enjoy growing along with the lemongrass. While some ornamental herbs such as hibiscus, geraniums, and flowering summer bedding plants are also growing well with the lemongrass.