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Grow Lush Lemongrass in Pots – Even If You Don’t Have a Green Thumb

Grow Lush Lemongrass in Pots – Even If You Don’t Have a Green Thumb

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Many people love using fresh herbs in cooking, while the more adventurous type uses them in tea! Either way, we can all agree that fresh herbs add something special to food and beverages.

In my opinion, one of the best herbs for such use is lemongrass. The zesty taste and aromatic flavor add that extra oomph to your dishes and hot drinks.

That said, growing Lemongrass in pots requires a combination of a few factors. From pot sizes and soil to moisture, it’s essential to learn about your plant’s needs. Not only that, but regular maintenance, fertilizing, harvesting, and adequate sun exposure are also a must.

Luckily, lemongrass is an easy plant to grow in any size container. You don’t have to be an expert to do it. So, if you enjoy lemon flavors, this wonderful herb is what you need to add to your backyard garden.

Keep reading to know more about it.

Will Lemongrass Grow Well In Pots?

Lemongrass In Pot

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is an easy-to-grow herb. It grows quickly and can spread to cover a pot or garden space of any size. I mean, what’s better than having fresh herbs available at arm’s reach whenever you need them?

Naturally, lemongrass originates from Asia, specifically India. Thus, it grows best in tropical to moderate climate zones. Yet, this doesn’t mean you can’t have it at home. With the right care, this versatile plant can thrive in colder regions just as easily!

Primarily, each lemongrass plant can grow to a height of three to five feet (1 to 1.5 m). If left to grow in the ground, it can even grow up to two feet (60cm) wide. However, if you don’t have enough space available, you can always grow Lemongrass in a pot.

What’s great about this idea is that you get to bring your herbs inside to protect them from the frost when the weather gets cold.

Principally, the best way to grow Lemongrass in a pot is only to plant a single stalk in each container. That’s because multiple stalks produce too many plants. As a result, some could suffocate from lack of space or become top-heavy and tip over.

In all cases, it’s essential to remember your potted lemongrass may need special care to remain in tip-top condition.

The Best Pots To Grow The Perfect Lemongrass In

Various Clay Pots

Principally, Lemongrass roots are prolific growers and need space to grow and bulk up. Otherwise, the roots could break their way out if confined in a small container!

So, the ideal pot size for growing Lemongrass is five-gallon (22L) or larger. Such a container should have a minimum size of 14 inches (35cm) in diameter.

Of course, you could start growing your Lemongrass in a smaller pot and transfer it to a bigger one as it grows and spreads. After all, a huge five-gallon pot isn’t ideal for placing on your kitchen window ledge.

Primarily, doing so wouldn’t harm your plants in any way. Even when divided and repotted, the plant will continue growing perfectly.

As for the type of pot, there are no specific recommendations. As long as it’s filled with moist, rich, well-draining soil, you can use any kind. All in all, these basic rules should help you with your choice.

  • Pick the correct size to grow the number of required plants (Ideally, a smaller size for new, growing plants and a larger one for established plants).
  • All pots must have good drainage.
  • Any type or color will do. Lemongrass isn’t fussy!

A Solution for Limited Spaces

For those who don’t have a large space in their garden, there’s still a way. To grow lemongrass, you can use a Garden Tower. This type of system allows you to have multiple herb plants vertically in a contained space indoors or outdoors. So, it provides maximum convenience.

How To Grow Lemongrass in Pots

Lemongrass In Small Containers

Lemongrass is a versatile herb you can grow almost anywhere, as long as the conditions are right. In colder climates, the best environment for Lemongrass is indoors, as it won’t survive the outdoor temperatures.

Generally, there are three methods to propagate Lemongrass:

1. Cuttings

If you live in a colder climate, you should begin growing your Lemongrass plants at least two months before your region’s last frost date in Spring.

There are two ways you can grow new Lemongrass plants from cuttings:

A. If You Already Have Your Own Growing Lemongrass Plants

If you have lemongrass in your garden, do the following to propagate new pots from cuttings:

  1. Cut the stalk from the plant using a sharp knife about an inch (2.5cm) above the ground.
  2. Place the stalks into a growing pot filled with potting soil or a growing medium (the base of the stalks should be about one inch (2.5cm) below the soil).
  3. Place the pot in a sunny place for about three weeks, keeping the soil moist.
  4. Transplant the growing Lemongrass plant into a bigger pot.

B. If You Don’t Already Have a Growing Lemongrass Plant

The best way to obtain cuttings is from your local Asian food market or grocery store. Here’s how it should go:

  1. Always pick healthy Lemongrass stalks with green centers and the bulbs still attached.
  2. Fill a glass container with water and place the Lemongrass stalks (bulb down) into it.
  3. Allow them to soak for a few weeks until new roots begin to show (make sure you change the water frequently).
  4. Once the roots reach a length of about one to two inches (2.5 to 5 cm), the bulbs are ready to place into a pot.
  5. Fill a pot with potting mix and add a sprinkling of water.
  6. Make sure the pot has a few drainage holes and is big enough to allow the plant to spread once planted.
  7. Gently trim the tops off the stalks and plant each into a hole in the center of the potting mix.
  8. Cover with the potting mix and set the pot in a sunny place.
  9. Remember to always plant the bulbs early in the morning to prevent transplant shock.

2. Seeds

If you’re lucky enough, you may find the compact East Indian variety, Cymbopogon flexuosus. However, the widely available type in most online stores or large garden centers is the Cymbopogon citratus.

Once you acquire the seeds, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Sow the seeds into a small pot or grow bag containing a growing medium like vermiculite or potting soil.
  2. Cover with a sprinkling of water, making sure the medium is moist but not too wet.
  3. Try to do that in the period from January to March, as seeds germinate well when planted at that time.
  4. The first sprouts should start appearing about 20 to 40 days after planting (the ideal temperature for germination is around 60°F or 20°C).
  5. After the seeds sprout, you can transplant them into cups until they grow to a reasonable size or around three inches (7cm).
  6. Transfer the plants into their final pots.

3. Divisions

Because they grow in clumps, lemongrass plants can be divided effortlessly. Digging up the plant while harvesting, you can simply break apart the bulbs with a small garden fork.

Each bulb-like base will have its own roots growing from the bottom and a narrow leaf fan growing at the top. You can choose the ideal size of each bulb for your container.

Remember that each bulb will grow and spread. So, choose the size of the pot wisely unless you’re planning to keep dividing and repotting every time you harvest the Lemongrass.

How To Care For Potted Lemongrass

Lemongrass In The Sun

Lemongrass grows well in regions within hardiness zones 8—11. For those living in specific areas, keeping your precious lemongrass plants in optimal condition may require some extra effort.

By learning how to care for such species, you’ll always have healthy plants ready for use all year round! Here are a few factors to consider when caring for your Lemongrass plants:

a. Sun Exposure

Lemongrass loves full sun! If your lemongrass plant is sitting in a shaded area, you may notice it’s a bit leggy. This is when you might need to move it into the sunlight. Once you do that, you can watch it grow and thrive!

In all cases, ensure each plant receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. That’s to meet their energy needs and keep them happy.

b. Water

Unless your lemongrass plant is fully mature, it won’t tolerate drought. Thus, you should keep its soil moist, especially after planting it in a fresh pot. To conserve essential moisture and enrich the soil, try placing a layer of mulch over it (preferably three inches or seven centimeters thick).

In general, keep in mind that the best time to water your plants is early morning or late afternoon. Whatever you do, try to avoid watering your plants at night. That’s because the leaves don’t get a chance to dry, exposing them to issues like fungal infections.

What’s more, when watering your plants, avoid pouring water over the stalks and leaves. Instead, you should pour the water at a low level directly onto the soil around the plant.

c. Soil

Lemongrass enjoys rich, loamy soil. Therefore, you need to add compost, manure, and leaf mold to the soil at planting time. Additionally, you should always use commercial potting soil when potting a Lemongrass plant.

On top of that, you have to replenish the soil yearly. That’s especially essential for plants sitting in the same pot for a few years.

That said, if you’d like your beloved plant to become healthier, repot it into a new container with fresh soil every Spring.

Sometimes, you might also want to add some manure tea to the soil for extra valuable trace nutrients.

d. Temperature and Humidity

Lemongrass is a tropical plant and thrives in hot, humid climates. Consequently, it can be quite sensitive to frost. So, if you’re keeping your lemongrass pots outdoors, the best practice during cold winters is to bring them indoors.

As for the best time to start doing that, it’s before the temperature hits a low of 40°F (4°C).

e. Fertilizing

By nature, grassy plants like Lemongrass need a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. So, choose a time-release kind, like 6-4-0 fertilizer, and add it to the pot to feed the plants throughout the growing season.

f. Weeding

Like most plants, Lemongrass won’t grow well if it competes for space and nutrients in the soil with other plants. Therefore, you should remove all the unwanted plants and weeds surrounding your Lemongrass regularly.

g. Pruning

Cutting Lemongrass Growing In Pot

Lemongrass can benefit from good pruning if they live for more than one season. It helps the plant produce an abundance of stalks. That’s why removing the dead leaves from each plant is essential to make room for fresh shoots to appear.

Generally, the first pruning session should be five to six months after planting. Following that, your plant may need a second pruning after a year.

The best time to prune your Lemongrass plants is at the end of winter or the beginning of Spring (during their resting period).

To do so, use a sharp knife and slice the stalk, leaving about six inches (15cm) above the ground. Then, remove all the dead grass from the stalks.

Once the weather becomes warm again, Lemongrass will bounce back and grow new shoots quickly.

h. Harvesting

No matter the season, you need to harvest your lemongrass plant every six months. Some people prefer leaving Lemongrass until each plant reaches its full size. That’s because it’s said to give it a more earthy taste.

However, if you prefer to harvest the plants while still young, it’s completely fine. Although the leafy green stalks are pretty tough, when snipped, they make an excellent tea. What’s more, they can give broths a fantastic flavor.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Use a hand trowel or fork to remove the individual stalks with their roots from the clump.
  2. Remove the outer white leaves from the stalk, as they can be too tough to eat.
  3. Chop the tender white stalks to add to your dishes.
  4. After chopping, you can freeze those delicate white stalks or store them in the refrigerator for over a month.

i. Pests and Diseases

Lemongrass is usually pest-free. However, this kind of plant has Allelopathy compounds. This means it can inhibit certain plants’ growth for its own survival.

So, before placing your potted Lemongrass in its designated space, check how good of a companion it will be to the plants around it.

Here are two of the most common problems you may face growing lemongrass.

  • Rust Fungus: It’s a nasty disease that can attack Lemongrass in some areas. It appears in the form of brown spots or streaks on the leaves. The best way to prevent rust fungus is by only watering the plants at the soil level.
  • Spider Mites: Those annoying little mites love Lemongrass. They appear as light-colored specks on leaves and could cause the leaves to fall off. When you spot them on your plants, wash them with a jet of water or insecticidal soap.

j. Winter Time Care

In colder climates, you can still grow lemongrass. You just need to limit it to single-bulb divisions in small containers and keep them in a warm spot.

So, dig up a few stalks with bulbs and roots on, cut back each stalk to about five inches (12cm), and place them in individual pots.

Throughout the winter season, you should keep these pots in a warm spot. Once it’s Spring, you can repot them into bigger pots.

Benefits of Growing Lemongrass in Pots

Besides being one of the easiest plants to grow in pots indoors and outdoors, Lemongrass has many benefits. Some of them are:

  • It has insect-repelling properties.
  • It can survive in any climate (with the right care).
  • You can propagate it from cuttings, seeds, or divisions.
  • It’s easy to maintain and harvest.
  • When brewed, it can have healing properties that help alleviate joint pains, relieve headaches, resolve digestive issues, and lower blood pressure (despite not having enough scientific evidence to support that).
  • Brewed lemongrass also has detoxifying powers, aiding your weight loss journey.
  • Lemongrass essential oils can aid in reducing anxiety and stress by promoting a sense of relaxation.
  • Growing lemongrass in a pot provides you with an endless supply of a fragrant lemony-tasting herb!

Lemongrass Insect-Repelling Properties

For many insect-repelling plants, it’s the scent that keeps the bugs away. Thus, plants with strong aromas can be disturbing to some insects.

Luckily, lemongrass is one of those plants, and its scent can be unpleasant to certain creatures, such as spiders, flies, fleas, and ants. In fact, experts believe the smell of lemongrass can repel snakes as well. So, you may add this to the list of benefits!

That said, the best news today is that lemongrass can actually repel mosquitoes (talking about annoying insects). Mainly, it’s thanks to the Citronella oil it contains. When rubbed against your skin, this oil masks the scents that attract mosquitos and help keep them away.

That said, the effects of using lemongrass to repel insects aren’t massive. While it may do well when you don’t have an alternative, it’s not as effective as store-bought insect repellents.

Final Thoughts

Growing Lemongrass in pots can easily be the best decision you make! Not only are they effortless to grow and low maintenance, but they also look and smell fantastic!

You can use Lemongrass in so many ways in the kitchen, and it has health benefits as well! A glass of Lemongrass tea aids digestion and stomach disorders. Plus, it’s often used for detoxing and weight loss.

Overall, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t grow this excellent, fragrant, beautiful herb in your own home!

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Jen

Thursday 22nd of February 2024

Thank you- I appreciate you taking the time to write all this information. I’m going to do both inside and outside this year. I feel very encouraged after reading your tips. Thanks again!

Lisa Bridenstine

Monday 26th of February 2024

That sounds lovely! Happy Planting!

liz

Friday 24th of November 2023

Great article. I love how simple and easy to understand! I have a giant lemongrass pot that I'm ready to figure out what to do with it for the winter.