Gardening

How to plant lemongrass

Lemongrass ( Cymbopogon citratus ), also known as lemongrass or capim-santo, is a tropical plant native to India. Much appreciated as tea, it is also used as a spice and for medicinal purposes. The essential oil extracted from its leaves, rich in citral, has several industrial uses. It is also used by beekeepers to attract swarms of bees to new hives, as it mimics the attraction pheromone produced by the nasonov gland of bees reasonably well.

Another plant also called lemongrass, and which is used in the same way, is the species Cymbopogon flexuosus , similar to the species Cymbopogon citratus , but of larger size. Both can be grown in the same way.

Climate

Lemongrass grows best in hot, humid weather. However, it can be grown in colder regions if kept in pots or other containers that can be moved to warm places during periods of low temperatures.

Brightness

Lemon grass needs high light, with direct sunlight for at least a few hours a day.

Ground

Cultivate preferably in well-drained, light, fertile soil and rich in organic matter.

Irrigation

Irrigate in order to keep the soil moist, without being soaked.

Planting

Planting is done by removing well-established plant seedlings. Remove seedlings with some roots from the clump, consisting of a thick stem or two thin stems. It is unusual to cultivate the species Cymbopogon citratus from seeds, as the plant rarely blooms. The Cymbopogon flexuosus species normally blooms and it is possible to use its seeds for planting, sowing in a well-lit place and subsequently transplanting to the final location.

The recommended spacing is 40 cm to 100 cm between the plants, depending on the fertility of the soil, as the plant can grow a lot in very fertile soils.

Lemon grass can be easily grown in large pots, at least 30 cm in diameter.

Cultivation

Keep the plantation free of invasive plants that compete with lemongrass for resources and nutrients in the first months of planting.

Every 3 or 4 years, the clumps can be divided and replanted to improve productivity, as they are very thick, with little room to grow.

Harvest

Leaf harvesting can be done three or four months after planting. Pick leaves individually when necessary or cut everything. In regions of suitable climate, the total harvest of the leaves can be done three or four times a year. It is best to harvest in the early morning, to reduce the volatility of essential oils present in the leaves, greater in the heat of the hottest hours of the day.

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