Lemongrass, a Far Eastern spice, also finds many fans in our latitudes. Here we explain how this culinary herb is grown and cared for.Lemongrass has found many fans with its exotic flavor © naughty_pupkung - Fotolia.com
Various herbs that are used fresh and dried for the preparation of dishes in the kitchen have a permanent place in the home garden. But hobby gardeners are always on the lookout for new aromatic plants with which they can give their dishes a new, distinctive flavor. Exotic herb lovers have long found their way into our region. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is definitely one of them.
It comes from Far Eastern latitudes and is used to subtropical and tropical climates. Lemongrass also thrives in Central Europe, but hobby gardeners must pay special attention to winter protection if the joy of this exotic spice plant is to last for many years.
Pull lemongrass yourselfFresh, plump lemongrass stems are good for growing new plants yourself © piyaraya - Fotolia.com
Buy fresh and plump lemongrass stalks at the market or in an Asia shop. At home, place them about 5 to 10 centimeters deep in a glass of water. Change the water more often so that the stems do not mold. After two weeks you can see the first roots. Once these have grown up to about 2 centimeters, pot the lemongrass into nutrient-rich soil and keep the potting soil in the pots regularly moist.
You can also grow lemongrass with seeds (can be ordered here). It is available on well-stocked seed shelves in the garden center or hardware store. Sow the lemon grass in pots in February and use it on the windowsill. Make sure that the soil in the seed pot is always moist but not too wet.
When the risk of frost is over, put the young plants outdoors at the end of May.
Lemongrass likes bright and sunny locations
Regardless of whether the lemongrass is to be planted in a bucket or directly outdoors, choose a bright, sunny, dry location that is protected from excessive rainfall. The soil should be rich in humus and well ventilated. It is advisable to plant the young plant at least 10 cm deep in the soil, since the lemongrass has a lively root system.
- In the summer months, water the spice plant two to three times a week. Avoid standing water and very large amounts of water, as this can lead to root rot.
- The plant needs less moisture in the winter months. During this time, water the grass once a week. If the soil moisture is prolonged, it is also sufficient if you water once within 14 days.
Fertilization is only carried out in spring and summer
- You should start fertilizing at the earliest after the first year of life of this perennial plant.
The lemongrass is fertilized only during the main growing season, from April to September. During this time, give the plant an organic liquid fertilizer once a month. You can also feed the lemongrass in spring and summer with a pellet fertilizer that is applied to the soil around the plant. Horn chips are also suitable as classic long-term fertilizers on a natural basis.
- The lemongrass gets no additional fertilizer during the cold season.
Cut and harvest lemongrass
The leaves can be cut and used in summer. You should also remove yellow leaves as they only leach out the crop unnecessarily. But do not touch the tubers, they are quite sensitive.
The plant is not cut in the winter months. Minimal thinning is possible from time to time.
Lemongrass cannot tolerate frost. As soon as the thermometer drops to 5 to 10 ° C in late summer, bring the plant into a warm room. A winter garden is an excellent solution for the lemongrass. But it is also ideal for a sunny window sill or another sunny place in the house.
Lemongrass is also a perennial and can spend many winters in the home or in a closed and warm room.
Protect lemongrass against pests
The only significant pest of lemongrass is the black gnat. The fully grown mosquito itself is not the evil for the plant, but its larvae. These cause considerable damage, especially to young plants in the bucket or pot.
The black gnat lays the eggs in the damp earth. First, the larvae feed on the fertilizer. But when this is used up, they transfer to the plant and damage it sensitively. The larvae injure the roots and penetrate the inside of the lemon grass. This can have serious consequences, especially for young plants. Large plants put up with the pest infestation well.
Here's how to get rid of the mosquito:
Simply lay a finger-wide layer of sand on the ground. This prevents the mosquitoes from laying eggs. You can pour your lemongrass in the planter from below, the mosquitoes can only reproduce in a damp environment.
What is lemongrass used for?Lemongrass is used for enjoyable dishes in Thai cuisine © saailom - Fotolia.com
Whether soup, fish, meat, salad, curry dish, rice dish or noodles: lemon grass can be used for practically any Asian dish. Seasoning is easy. You can cook the cleaned stems whole or roughly cut into pieces. Simply remove the lemongrass before serving. The aroma remains in the dish and you don't mind the half-firm lemongrass when eating.
Lemongrass tea also tastes very good. For a cup, roughly cut a stem and pour boiling water over it. Let the tea brew well. Then remove the lemongrass and enjoy the tea. By the way, the tea also tastes well chilled in summer.
Conclusion: Lemongrass is perennial and is relatively easy to cultivate. From late May to September it can be grown in a bright, sunny and dry outdoor location. If the outside temperature drops to around 5 to 10 ° C in late summer, bring the plant into your home. The soil in which the grass thrives should always be kept moist, but avoid waterlogging. Organic fertilizers are used from April to September.