How to Propagate Lemongrass

Rooting lemongrass stalks

I do a lot of Vietnamese cooking at home, and the unique flavor of lemongrass is one of my absolute favorites. When I discovered you can propagate lemongrass from stalks bought at the grocery store, I drove right down to my local Asian market and picked up six fresh stalks to root in water.

This method is pretty much fool-proof. The stalks you buy don’t need to have roots at the bottom, but they do need to have the entire stem intact.

I cut off the foliage, leaving only an inch above the stem. Choose a sunny location like a south-facing windowsill, put the stalks in water, change the water every day, and watch as new leaves begin growing almost immediately. The roots start emerging after a week, and the stalk eventually divides itself (via offshoot stalks) after a few weeks. Once the roots reach a sizable length (at least three inches), the stalks are ready to go in the ground.

Rooting lemongrass stalks

In the first week, new leaves form at the top.

Rooting lemongrass stalks

Roots after one week.

Rooting lemongrass stalks

Roots after two weeks.

Rooting lemongrass stalks

And finally, three weeks later with sizable roots and new foliage growth, the lemongrass stalks are ready for the garden.

I planted three stalks together for a larger yield, but if growing in a container, one stalk will do. Under ideal conditions, lemongrass will grow into a very hefty shrub, about five feet tall and wide, or even more. It can become so dense that some people even grow lemongrass as a screen or hedge… so pick a spacious permanent area in your garden for it.

Planting lemongrass in the ground

Lemongrass is a perennial that likes moist soil, a warm climate, and sunny location (picture its native tropical conditions) and overwinters in my Sunset climate zone 24. The stalks should be ready for harvest in two to four months, and will grow back if you snap off or cut the stalk about an inch above the ground. You can also cut the stalk away from the plant (with rootstock intact) to propagate more plants. Share them with your friends!

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October 1 2010      19 comments     Linda Ly
Hierbas   Jardín

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  • kevin in bangkok

    I know a bit late (since 2010) but just to say thank you for the tips! Failed twice transplanting direct from another plant but this is great.. markets in Bangkok of course full of lemongrass but nice to have some fresh lemon grass tea too :-) Ciao for now

    • http://www.gardenbetty.com/ Linda Ly

      Good luck with your new transplants!

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  • Brittany

    How deep did you plant these? It’s a little hard to tell from the picture.

    • http://www.gardenbetty.com/ Linda Ly

      I planted the stalks a couple inches in the soil – just enough to keep them stable and upright.

      • Brittany

        Awesome, thanks. I did two stalks like you suggested here, but only one sprouted roots (both were whole stalks). Not sure why. The one that didn’t sprout roots is still growing leaves, for whatever reason. But I’m about ready to plant out the sprouted one; it’s getting pretty long.

        • http://www.gardenbetty.com/ Linda Ly

          If the unsprouted stalk has been in water for about a month with no roots yet, you should probably try again with a new one. Depending on how often you use lemongrass though, one stalk may be all you need; mine has multiplied like crazy!

          • Cindy Ransfield

            How many stalks can you plant together at the same time. I see in the picture you planted 4-5 is that what you call a clump? How far should you plant clumps of lemongrass?

          • http://www.gardenbetty.com/ Linda Ly

            You can plant as many as you want together, though they do multiply quickly and easily, so keep that in mind if you have limited space. I planted three stalks together (the extra stems you might be seeing are offshoots). Nearly three years later, this is how they look: http://www.gardenbetty.com/2013/05/two-year-lemongrass-update-and-how-to-tame-that-wild-thing/

  • http://www.gardenbetty.com/ Linda Ly

    Thanks Holly! And that’s wonderful about doing what you love for a living – everyone should be as lucky!

  • http://www.thefarmonhollyshill.com/ Holly K

    Excellent article!  I love your blog and the tag line “diary of a dirty girl”, just great.  I too love gardening, cooking, and herbs- all things about the home.  I loved it do much we decided to make it our living.
    http://themakingofahome.wordpress.com/

  • http://twitter.com/sowandso Laila Noort

    I will keep this in mind for when we have a polytunnel. Outside will not work here but it will either be the polytunnel or a pot inside the house. Lemongrass always represents sunshine and asian food which is a well needed distraction after having to endure a month of rain and cold. Thanks for that! 

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