I find Lemongrass grows pretty well during Melbourne’s warmer months. Over winter it tends to hibernate and if you get frost it may not last the winter. This is what one of my lemongrass plants looked like last May.
It is in a spot in the garden which is probably a bit too shady for it really – it tends to like a fair bit of sun but still grows well enough in partial shade to be able to harvest the occasional stalk. I have another plant which I propagated from seed last Spring which is in a position which is definitely too shady for it, so today I transferred it to a pot. It looks pretty sad doesn’t it? Note the snail shell under the leaves – I often find them hiding in the middle of the clump.
To move lemongrass, or indeed any plant that will tolerate being moved (some don’t react at all well to having their roots disturbed) simply dig the plant out of the ground with as much of its root ball as possible.
With a plant like lemongrass, which can be moved pretty happily (and is often propagated by division), I simply put the spade into the ground about 10cm from the plant, mirror this on the opposite side and then the adjoining sides to create a square. I then ease the spade under the plant. If the plant lifts easily then you are probably taking sufficient roots with it for it to survive. I replanted this plant in a pot so I could give it more sun than any of my spaces in the ground allowed.
After transplant I gave it a trim, a dose of liquid fertiliser and a general tidy up and hopefully it will now happily produce some new stems.
The growing season for lemongrass in Melbourne seems to be from about Nov/Dec until about May. My plants don’t really produce much regrowth until this time of the year after being pretty dormant since May. It probably isn’t really advisable to harvest much from the plant during spring as you may take any new growth with any stalks you harvest.
To harvest during the rest of the year simply pull off the stalks by grasping the stalk as close as possible to ground level and tugging. I do find that the tops of the leaves irritate my skin and they are also quite sharp so it is best to wear gloves when harvesting. Despite often reading that lemongrass rarely goes to seed I find that my plants flower and produce seed pretty much every year. The seed is easily saved and can then be sown in late Spring (I have problems getting it to germinate much before November).
Alternatively lemongrass can also be propagated by dividing existing clumps. Or you could buy a healthy looking stalk with its base attached and try placing it in a glass of water to grow roots and then plant out. I haven’t actually tried this latter method but I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t work. I would love to know if anyone has successfully propagated a plant from lemongrass sold for culinary use.