Lemongrass

Today I finally got around to dividing/propagating my lemongrass plant.  I dug it out of my herb garden over a month ago (before a hard freeze) and it has been living in a bucket ever since.  This post is about how to do such a task.  Before we get going, I want to point out that there are 2 different kinds of lemongrass plants.  Cymbopogon citratus (West Indian lemongrass) can only be propagated by division where Cymbopogon flexuosus (East Indian lemongrass) is propagated by seed.  Cymbopogon citratus has bulbous enlarged leaf bases. These bulbous leaf bases are the parts used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking.  The leaves can be used to make tea.  Cymbopogon flexuosus produces leaves that can also be used for tea.  This variety is the source for lemongrass essential oil used in desserts, cosmetics, and perfumery.  I have seen these mislabeled numerous times in the trade.  These are both great plants, but if you want the kind for true Thai and Vietnamese cooking make sure the plants have enlarged leaf bases.  The plant I am propagating today is Cymbopogon citratus (notice leaf bases). 

Here is the plant out of the herb garden.

 

 The next step is to pull/cut the plant apart.  Since I have no formal training in propagation this is what I have learned through trial and error and simply learning to just ask the plant.  The plant will guide you to where its best to pull apart. 

Sometimes your hands are not enough.  I use my felco pruners and/or knife to cut apart the roots.

 

This can be divided into more sections.

Next, pull apart each little bulb with a small root attached.  Generally the central 3 stay together as one big piece.

Here is a picture of the central 3 big pieces.

Next, put soil in the plug tray.

Poke the little plantlets into the cells and water into their new home.

The bigger pieces I put in 4.5″ pots.

This process took me several hours to complete.  I cleaned the plants of dead leaves and pruned off the long roots.  I got 58 single bulb bases and 19 3-piece bases out of my one plant.

By the way kitties love to snack on lemongrass too!

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About theherbshack

Jennifer Shackleton is a soap crafter and greenhouse grower specializing in herb plants. Jennifer began cultivating her interest in plants and nature as a young child roaming the woods at her grandparents' farm near Rough River Lake in Kentucky. In 2005, she formed a business called The Herb Shack growing culinary and medicinal herbs in an environmentally friendly way. She uses organic growing practices on her plants and sells them in biodegradable pots instead of plastic containers. As an outgrowth of the greenhouse business, Jennifer has begun studying and experimenting with the use of herb plants. This blog is about my journey on growing the herb plants, getting to know them, and learning how to use them. Enjoy!
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