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Growing Lemongrass In The UK

We love to cook with what we grow, but lemongrass also offers you plenty to enjoy in the garden too!

A tropical herb, lemongrass is susceptible to frosts and certain care needs to be taken to avoid the harsh British weather. But once established this container plant will reward you with about 1.5 meters of foliage that arcs across to form a structural display to rival any fountain in your garden.

You may want to plant lemongrass as part of a mindfulness or meditation garden, the sound of the wind through the cascading foliage is soothing and beautiful to see.

luscious lemongrass

How Long Does Lemongrass Take To Grow

From sowing seeds to harvest it can take between 4-8 months in the UK. As it grows well in pots you will find that in the right position for sunlight you may be able to harvest sooner at around the 100 days mark. Lemongrass is an attractive plant, so enjoy it as a structural piece in your container display as well as it’s culinary uses.

Germination time for lemongrass seeds varies depending on which method you use. We sow seeds in a heated propagator around 4-6 weeks before the fear of frost has passed. Mid-April should be fine in the UK. Germination is between 5-20 days. In a heated propagator more like 5-12 days, but if you are sowing directly expect the longer germination period.

From sowing to harvesting your lemongrass you will be looking at around 90 days. However once you have started harvesting it is a very easy plant to take from all year round. If you live in zones 9 and above this may be an easier task than if you live in 8 and below as you will need to over winter and bring them indoors.

Where To Buy Lemongrass Seeds Or Plants In The UK

You may struggle to find seeds in your local nursery but Johnsons sell lemongrass seeds, available here. They are a long established seed producer and once bought you can have a continual stock of lemongrass by propagation. Obviously you can skip this entire process and buy a lemon grass plant 12cm here, this is a great option for those wanting an instant look and access to lemon grass immediately.

TOP TIP – We recommend that you grow your lemongrass in pots or containers. The reason being it is such a successful clumping plant that it may well grow to fill any space. Choking plants in the area. You can sow directly if this is your desired outcome though!

Sowing Lemongrass Seed

  1. Starting lemongrass seeds indoors is a useful way to get an earlier crop. Start them one month before the fear of frost has passed. Use a heated propagator for best germination rates.
  2. We use individual biodegradable pots. You can sow in trays and keep individual lemongrass seeds around 6 inches apart. Do not cover with soil, but press them down to ensure that the seeds have adequate contact with the soil. They will need sunlight to germinate, you can use an LED lamp, or a windowsill. Cover with a clear lid or plastic bag, and wait for germination of around 5-14 days.
  3. Once the lemon grass seedlings are a few inches tall they are ready to be hardened off. Move them to a sunny spot in the day time and move them indoors in the evening for a few weeks. Then plant them into their final pot or container. If you intend to plant into the ground move them to at least 2 foot apart. If into a pot it will need to be at least one foot deep and one foot wide.
  4. For those in warmer climate who want to sow directly choose a large pot (one foot wide by one foot deep at least) as lemongrass will likely grow to fill the pots. This will take around 21 days. Lemongrass will not appreciate a frost and staying at least 5 degrees above freezing is ideal all year round.
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  1. Your young plants will look a little lost but lemongrass grows to around 1.5 metres in height and will cascade down, so give them lots of room. It is a clumper too. This means they are great for division.
  2. Lemongrass loves nitrogen rich soil and a liquid feed is advised during the growing season, try a borage liquid for preference.
  3. Between 75-100 days after sowing they should be ready for harvesting. If you leave them they will fill out and are very pleasing on the eye. But we all know the gorgeous citrus taste and aroma in Thai cuisine. Lemongrass is an absolute must if you also grow a herbal tea garden!
  4. Late Summer in zones 9 and below (the UK is included here) is a good time to think about bringing them indoors. This is because of their tender perennial nature. Some people do let them grow as an annual and cut them back, but if you have the space bring them inside.

TOP TIP – When harvesting you can eat the leaves, however if you want to eat the tender stem you will need to wait until it is at least half an inch thick. This is because it will be fibrous and tough to eat when it is younger. You can still harvest and keep the remaining plant alive though.

What Next

We are a site dedicated to growing and using herbs, why not subscribe to find out more ways to use these unusual plants in your garden? Or check out our other articles on growing exotic herbs here. If you want to learn more about growing your own curry in the UK we have an article available to help.

Dried lemongrass is used in many dishes and I have put an article on drying time together, here.

If you like to cook and grow your own lemongrass why not have a look at how to grow ginger from seed, or how to grow kaffir lime trees?

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