Lemongrass, Cymbopogon Citratus, is an aromatic clumping grass commonly seen in many gardens worldwide. It is the most popular of two plants referred to as Lemongrass, and is well-known for its culinary uses.
It is the native tropical region of Asia, where it typically grows as a perennial plant. However, due to its sensitivity to frost, it is often grown as an annual plant in certain parts of North America and other temperate regions.
This article will examine why Lemongrass is technically a perennial plant but is often seen as an annual plant instead.
Let’s begin by looking at what we mean by perennial and annual in temperate regions.
What Is A Perennial Plant?
Perennials are usually cold-hardy plants that typically bloom and return in the spring when the weather starts to warm.
Although they don’t die in cold weather, they generally only bloom for one season each year, which can be spring, summer, or fall.
A few species of perennial plants do rebloom or are long-blooming, but these are not the norm.
Perennials can live for a long time, but that doesn’t mean they will live forever. Some perennials can live for several years, but many will only live for three to five years.
Some perennials need constant care, requiring to be pruned and divided regularly. In contrast, others can be left alone and will thrive even if ignored.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of perennial plants.
What Are Annual Plants?
In contrast, annual plants live their entire cycle in one season. They will germinate, flower, set seed, and die within one season.
Annual plants can be ideal in gardens as you can be sure they will flower brightly and reliably, as this helps them reproduce.
Some annuals even self-sow, so your next batch of annual plants will be ready to go with minimal effort, although this isn’t as common.
Now that we have a clear understanding of the two terms let’s look at the issue surrounding the classification of Lemongrass.
Is Lemongrass A Perennial?
Technically yes, lemon grass is a perennial. It will survive through winter and is winter hardy.
However, whether lemon grass will behave like a perennial depends entirely on where you live and the climate conditions.
Lemon grass thrives in regions with long and hot summers and mild or no winters.
Do you live in a region that follows this pattern? Then, Lemongrass will be a perennial plant, and it will continue to grow and survive through winter.
However, in regions that have cold winters, Lemongrass will not survive. As a result, it is treated in the same manner as annual plants because of its sensitivity to frost.
Lemongrass In The United States
Interestingly, there are regions of the United States where Lemongrass will act as perennial and other regions where it will not.
The U.S Department of Agriculture has created a Hardiness Zone Map which can be used by gardeners to check which plants are likely to thrive and survive at a particular location.
Lemongrass Is A Perennial In Zones 10 and 11
These zones are numbered from 1a to 13b, and each zone is based on the average annual minimum winter temperatures. The zones are divided by differences of 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lemongrass is considered fully winter hardy in hardiness zones 10 and 11.
In these zones, the average winter temperature is between 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Lemongrass will typically grow to heights of two to four feet.
In these zones, Lemongrass should remain green throughout the cool winter months.
Lemongrass Is Somewhat Perennial In Zones 8b And 9
In areas of the United States that are a little cooler than this, you may find that the leaves of Lemongrass will die during the winter. However, the plant may return in the spring as the roots survive the cold weather.
This is possible in zones 8b and 9. Lemongrass may return as a perennial, but it could also act like an annual plant. If you live in this region, you should take steps to make your Lemongrass survive.
Lemongrass Grows An Annual In Regions Colder Than Zone 8b
In colder parts of the country, it’s highly likely that Lemongrass will not survive the winter and will act as an annual plant. This is likely in zones that are colder than 8b.
You can check which zone your location is in by entering your zip code at the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map site.
How To Protect Your Lemongrass
If you live in zones 8b and 9, you can take steps to increase the odds of your Lemongrass surviving the winter.
You should consider trimming the Lemongrass and using a row cover to protect the roots from severe cold snaps, likely in these zones. This might be the difference between your Lemongrass surviving into spring or dying in winter.
Another option is to divide your lemongrass plants and plant them into pots or containers.
You can bring the plants indoors and care for them until the temperatures increase and spring arrives.
Make sure that any containers you choose have adequate drainage holes and that you use a high-quality prepared soil mix.
Before the first winter frost occurs, move the Lemongrass to an indoor area that gets plenty of bright light.
You should also take care of the plants while growing outside.
Lemongrass thrives in hot areas, so make sure it is planted in areas with lots of sunlight and as much water as needed.
However, take care to not overwater the Lemongrass, as this can lead to root rot.
In this article, we learned that although Lemongrass is a perennial plant, there are circumstances where it behaves as an annual plant.
In some parts of the United States, the winter temperatures are too low for Lemongrass to survive. In these regions, Lemongrass should be taken care of indoors if you wish for them to last.
We hope that this article has answered all of your questions about whether Lemongrass is a perennial plant or not.
Wisconsin Horticulture. Lemongrass, Cymbopogon spp. hort.extension.wisc.edu. Accessed October 2022
Utah State University Yard And Garden Extension. Lemongrass In The Garden. extension.usu.edu. Accessed October 2022
USDA. USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. planthardiness.ars.usda.gov. Accessed October 2022