Growing lemongrass in cold climates-How to keep them survive?

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Are you always looking for new herbs to add to your garden?

Do you love adding in homegrown herbs to your recipes?

If you are interested in adding a new herb to your garden this year, you might consider growing lemongrass. This easy to grow herb does best in warm and humid conditions.

Knowing that you might be wondering about growing this plant in cold climates. 

Lemongrass is a perennial in climates where the weather is humid and warm and full sun is offered. In cold climates, you will have some challenges. When planted outside, lemongrass does not usually survive the winter. 

To grow lemongrass in cold climates, plant it in a pot that can be moved inside and out depending on the weather.  

Having lemongrass in your garden will give you the opportunity to add a great lemon flavor to recipes, but growing it in cold climates presents challenges.

Keep reading to learn even more about lemongrass and how you can have it in your garden even if you don’t have the warm, humid weather it likes year-round.  

Growing Lemongrass In Cold Climates 

Many gardeners have found joy in growing lemongrass, enjoying the look of the plant and the flavor it provides to many recipes. It is a common ingredient in Asian cooking.

As an added benefit, lemongrass is said to keep mosquitos away and as it grows, may even provide privacy on decks or patios. If you are thinking about it for a recipe, it can be purchased in many supermarkets, but you might  want to try your hand at growing it yourself.  

Lemongrass likes a humid and warm climate with plenty of sun and moisture. Because of this, it is harder to grow in places with colder climates, but it is not impossible. 

If you are interested in growing lemongrass in your garden, and you want it to last longer than one growing season, plant it in a container. 

Start your container of lemongrass in the spring with your garden. By going with this option, you can bring the container of lemongrass in when the temperatures get too low.

Then in the spring, after the last frost, as temperatures increase, you will be able to bring it back outside into your garden. 

Don’t get discouraged by your climate and think you cannot have some of the plants you really want. Growing lemongrass in a container is just one option for you to have the plants you want for years to come.  

If you don’t mind replanting your lemongrass each year and you live in a colder climate, it can be planted in the ground, but realize it will likely not make it through the winter to come back next year.

The colder your climate the less likely you will be to have your plant survive if you leave it outside in the winter. 

When you directly plant lemongrass in the ground, space them approximately three feet apart since they can grow up to three feet wide.

The soil should be well-drained and high in organic content. Make sure throughout the growing season, the soil is moist. Water your lemongrass with by hand or using flood irrigation. Avoid using a sprinkler to water them.  

Can Lemongrass Survive the Winter? 

As we discussed above, lemongrass thrives when temperatures are warm and humid. This plant is native to India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia and likes the heat.

It can grow in locations where average cold weather temperatures reach at the lowest 20 to 30 degrees, but when temperates get lower than this range, the plant will not survive.  

In warm weather climates, it does grow as a perennial, meaning it doesn’t need to be replanted each year, coming back for many seasons.

Perennials may die back during the winter, but new growth will emerge as warmer temperatures return. But in colder climates where temperatures dip too low, it is known as a tender annual. Annuals are plants that flower and then die in one season.  

When temperatures get too low, this plant, like many others, just cannot survive. And in many places the winter just gets too cold for lemongrass to come back for another season.

Planting lemongrass in a container and then bringing in the container for the winter will be the best way to ensure it survives the winter. Left outside in the elements, your lemongrass has little hope of surviving to see the spring.  

How Cold Can Lemongrass Survive? 

Lemongrass is not known for its ability to survive cold climates. It does best in a humid and warm climate, growing best in the tropics and subtropics.

Full sun is also a requirement for this plant. It can grow in areas where the weather does get colder, but that doesn’t mean it will survive when temperatures get low.  

Lemongrass does survive outside in locations wherein cooler months, temperatures do not dip too low.

Lemongrass can survive outside in zones where temperatures can reach average lows between 20 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit. But the cooler the temperatures, the less likely it will be that your lemongrass plant can survive and then grow back after the winter.  

When gardeners plant lemongrass in these cold climate areas, it is usually done in containers, if they want the plant to make it through the winter.

These plants don’t like cold weather, but they can survive outside in these locations until the first frost hits.

When it frosts, the plant will be damaged and likely won’t survive. For this reason, it is so important to bring pots inside before the chance of the first frost in the fall and leave them inside until danger from frost is no longer an issue in the spring. 

Will Lemongrass Grow Back After Winter? 

When temperatures get lower than those averages, your lemongrass is at greater risk for being killed off by the cold.

How to grow lemongrass in cold climate

If you live in a hardy zone where lemongrass is able to grow, it will likely come back after winter, but the colder the climate the harsher the winter and the bigger the risk to your plant.  

Tips : How To Grow Lemongrass In Cold Climate 

As we have touched on, you can add lemongrass to gardens in cold climates by either planting it in the ground or in a container. If you want your lemongrass to last more than one season, the container will be your best option.  

Lemongrass is hardly ever grown from seed. It can be, but this is far more difficult. It is far easier and you are more likely to be successful if you begin with a starter plant from a local greenhouse or nursery. 

1. For growing your lemongrass in a container, use a pot that allows for good drainage with plenty of holes. 
Keep the prepared soil mixture you use moist, but watch out for overwatering.

Overwatering your plant may lead to root rot and the death of your lemongrass. Develop a watering plan, and also add fertilizer about every two weeks.  

2. Move the lemongrass inside to its winter home before the first frost. Place it in a well lit, bright area for the winter. At this point, you will water as needed and fertilizer applications can be reduced.  

3. In the spring, you can divide your lemongrass by separating the clumps.

This will give you more lemongrass to work with and it greatly helps with the productivity of the plant.
If you are cultivating this plant to be used for privacy on a deck or patio, dividing it will help you get multiple plants.

As the plant grows each year, you may need to transplant it into a larger container. Transplanting is best done in the spring and may coincide with separating the clumps.  

These plants can grow three to six feet tall and as wide was three feet. In cooler temperatures, even in summer, growth will be slow, but when the weather heats up, the growth will be exponential.

By the end of summer you will have stalks large enough to harvest. Stalks are ready for harvest when they are about half and inch thick. 

Wrapping Up 

Lemongrass is a grass like plant, with a great look and a lemon flavor when used in cooking. It is used in soaps, perfumes, and as a cleaning agent.

Not to mention it is often used as an insect repellent. There are medicinal benefits in part because it contains high amounts of vitamin A.

It is also a commonly found ingredient in Asian cooking. With so many benefits and uses, it is no wonder so many people want to try their hand at growing this herb.  

Even though you might live in a cooler climate, you don’t have to limit yourself and cut lemongrass from your garden planning.

To ensure your plant survives the winter in cooler climates, it is best to grow the plant in a container so you can move it inside and out as weather permits.

In these climates, the herb can be planted directly in the ground, but you won’t have much luck with the plant surviving the winter.