Propagating Lemongrass By Division: Tips On Dividing Lemongrass Plants

lemongrass division
lemongrass division
(Image credit: Tanantornanutra)

Lemongrass, as the name suggests, is a grass-like herb whose tender shoots and leaves are used to impart a delicate hint of lemon in many Asian dishes. If you love the subtle citrus flavor of this herb, you may have wondered “can I propagate lemongrass?” In fact, propagating lemongrass by division is a simple process. Read on to find out how to divide lemongrass plants.

How Can I Propagate Lemongrass?

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), sometimes spelled lemon grass, is indeed a member of the grass family that includes corn and wheat. It is winter hardy to only USDA zone 10 but can be container grown and brought indoors to shelter it from winter temperatures. There are only two of the 55 species of Cymbopogon used as lemongrass. They are usually labeled as East or West Indian lemongrass and are used in cooking or to make tea or tisanes. Lemongrass is generally grown from stem cuttings or divisions, with the division of lemongrass being the most commonly used method.

Propagating Lemongrass by Division

As mentioned, division of lemongrass is the primary method of propagation. Lemongrass can be obtained from specialty nurseries or can be purchased from an Asian grocery. Sometimes, you may find it in the local supermarket or obtain a cutting from a friend. If you get it from a grocer, try to find a piece with a few roots in evidence. Put the lemongrass in a glass of water and let the roots grow. When the lemongrass has sufficient roots, go ahead and plant it in a container or garden area with well-draining soil that is moist and high in organic content, and in a full sun exposure. If need be, amend the soil with 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm.) of rich compost and work it in down to a depth of 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.). Lemongrass grows quickly and by the successive year will likely need to be divided. Potted plants, especially, will need to be divided each year.

How to Divide Lemongrass Plants

When dividing lemongrass plants, be sure they have at least one inch (2.5 cm.) of root attached. Optimally, cut the blades to a height of 2 inches (5 cm.) before dividing lemongrass plants, which will make managing the plant easier. Dig up the lemongrass plant and, with a shovel or sharp knife, divide the plant into at least 6 inch (15 cm.) sections. Plant these divisions 3 feet (1 m.) apart to accommodate the vigorous growth; plants can grow 3 to 6 feet (1-2 m.) tall and 3 feet (1 m.) across. Lemongrass is native to tropical regions and thrives with ample rainfall and humid conditions, so keep the plants moist. Water by hand or use flood irrigation, not sprinklers. Fertilize the plants every two weeks during the growing season (June through September) with a complete balanced fertilizer. Cease fertilizing during the winter when the plant goes dormant.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.