Growing Lemongrass in Pots

Lemongrass is famous for its bright, citrus flavor and is a popular staple in Asian cuisine. It also has various medicinal uses, from treating digestive issues to high blood pressure.

It’s a hardy herb that makes an ideal houseplant for even the most inexperienced gardeners. Growing lemongrass in pots is both easy and rewarding. Read on to learn more about growing lemongrass at home.

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Growing Lemongrass in Pots

It’s easy to grow lemongrass in a pot, but you must ensure that you give it the right conditions for healthy green shoots.

The Basics

  • Lemongrass is a tropical plant native to Southeast Asia, and as such, it grows best in warm and humid conditions, like those found in Florida or Texas.
  • In most cases, lemongrass will thrive in USDA hardiness zones eight and up. Zones below eight are too cold for the plant to grow.
  • Fortunately, growing lemongrass in pots allows you to keep it at an optimal temperature. In cold weather, you can bring the plant indoors or store it in a greenhouse.
  • Remember that lemongrass prefers plenty of light. It grows best in areas with full sun, meaning you may want to place indoor plants beside a bright window.
  • Lemongrass also needs plenty of water to thrive. In hot weather, plants may require daily irrigation for lush, healthy growth.
  • If you live in an area like Florida or Texas, regularly check your plant to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
  • At the same time, you don’t want the soil to be soggy. Wet conditions may lead to issues such as root rot, which can prove fatal for your plant. Using a pot gives you complete control over the type of soil you use, allowing you to optimize your plant’s growing conditions.

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Best Soil Type

  • Lemongrass works best with soil that is:
    • Rich in nutrients
    • Loamy
    • Well-drained
  • The pH should be close to neutral, or around 6.5 to 7.0. Most standard potting mixes will work just fine for lemongrass plants.
  • Additives, such as peat moss or fir bark, can help improve your soil’s drainage and nutrient content. Liquid fertilizer can also help to improve growth.
  • Even without fertilizer, lemongrass can grow quickly under the right conditions. It will spread rapidly to fill any pot or container it occupies.
  • At maturity, lemongrass stalks can grow up to five feet tall. However, most people choose to harvest stalks for use when they reach around one foot in height.

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Read How to grow Lemongrass From Cuttings

The Best Types of Pots for Lemongrass

  • Lemongrass grows well in pots, but a container that’s too cramped could spell disaster for you and your plant.
  • Lemongrass grows a wide, dense root system that needs plenty of space to spread. A pot that’s too narrow or shallow may break under pressure from growing roots.
  • It’s best to choose a pot that can hold at least five gallons or 22 liters. The diameter should be greater than 14 inches to allow plenty of room for growth.
  • Any container you choose must also have good drainage. There should be holes around the bottom to allow for healthy water flow.
  • If you grow your plant from seed or starter, you may want to start small and size up your pots.
  • When your container is too big, your plant’s newly developed roots will have trouble drawing enough water from the soil.
  • Start with a one or two-gallon pot, and, as your plant grows, work your way up to a five-gallon container.
  • No matter what size pot you choose, it’s best to plant just one stalk per container.
  • If you introduce multiple stalks, there won’t be enough space for roots to spread. Plants will compete for nutrients and may end up suffocating or starving.

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How To Grow Lemongrass in Pots

Growing lemongrass in pots is easy, and young plants are readily available in most places. Read on to learn more about how to grow lemongrass in pots, planters, or other containers.

Where To Find Lemongrass

  • You can find lemongrass sprouts for sale at your local gardening center, or you can check your grocery store for lemongrass stalks. As long as the bulb is still intact, you can try planting it.
  • Some people also choose to grow from seeds or cuttings. While these can be harder to find, they both produce healthy, delicious plants under the right conditions.

When To Plant Lemongrass

  • If you plan on planting fresh lemongrass, it’s best to wait until springtime to do so. Once the last frost of winter has passed, it should be warm enough for lemongrass to thrive.
  • If you plant in the spring, you should have mature plants by summertime. Once stalks grow tall enough, you can begin harvesting them for:
    • Meals
    • Teas
    • Cosmetics

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Where To Plant Lemongrass

  • Planting lemongrass in a pot allows you to place it wherever you want. You can include plants as a part of your outdoor landscaping, or you can keep them as part of an indoor herb garden.
  • As a perennial, lemongrass can live through the winter and resurge in the spring. However, frost can easily kill mature plants.
  • If you live in a cold area, you may want to consider keeping lemongrass plants indoors. At the very least you should transport your plant inside when the winter months hit.
  • Whether you grow your plant indoors or outdoors, always ensure it has access to plenty of sunlight. Indoor plants may benefit from a bright window or specialized grow light nearby.

Potting Lemongrass

  • Once you know where you want to place your planter, you can fill it with soil. You can find nutrient-rich potting soil at your local gardening center, or you can mix your own blend.
  • If you use soil from your garden, remember that you may need to add materials such as peat moss to improve drainage. Clay-heavy soils may benefit from the addition of sand or silt.
  • You might also need to add extra nutrients to garden soil mixes if you want to see fast, lush growth from your plant.
  • Organic matter such as compost can help to enrich the soil, but be wary of nutrient burn. Excess minerals can prevent healthy nutrient uptake, and salts may toxify soil.
  • If you pot starters from the supermarket or gardening center, prime stalks by placing them in water. Doing this will encourage early root growth.
  • Once roots have reached around three inches long, you can transplant your stalk to its container. This method also works for cuttings.
  • Angle the stalk upright and place the bulb in the soil. The base should sit around one inch below the soil’s surface. Ensure that soil is loosely packed around the roots.
  • If you’re planting from seed, you can encourage germination by placing it inside a damp cloth or paper towel.
  • Once you notice signs of growth, you can transfer your seedling to a small pot. Plant the seed around ¼ inch deep and water immediately.

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Growing Lemongrass

  • Between spring and summer, you should see your lemongrass grow to maturity. Under optimal growing conditions, stalks may reach up to five feet tall.
  • As a tropical plant, lemongrass grows well with plenty of water.
  • Those who live in dry climates or store plants indoors should water once daily or every other day, depending on their plant’s irrigation needs.
  • If you live in a wet or humid climate, you may be able to water your lemongrass less frequently. You can irrigate as needed by testing the soil.
  • When soil is dry down to your second knuckle, you should give your lemongrass a deep watering. Otherwise, roots may have trouble reaching moisture towards the bottom of the pot.
  • You can encourage faster, thicker growth by using liquid or granular fertilizer to add nutrients to your plant’s soil.
  • During early growth, you only need to fertilize your lemongrass once per month. As the summer growing season approaches, you may want to start fertilizing on a daily basis.
  • Like other grassy plants, lemongrass prefers a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for optimal growth. Nitrogen promotes fast leafy growth to help stalks grow tall and strong in a matter of months.

Harvesting Lemongrass

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  • You can harvest potted lemongrass plants year-round as long as you provide plenty of water, sunlight, and fertilizer as it grows.
  • Most people prefer to harvest stalks once they reach around a foot in height and a half-inch in diameter. At this point, greens are still delicate and tender.
  • If you want thicker, woodier stalks, you can wait longer to harvest. Wild-grown lemongrass doesn’t usually get picked until the end of the growing season.
  • Cut or snap off stalks close to the root to encourage healthy regrowth. As long as the roots are healthy, your lemongrass will continue producing new growth for you to enjoy.

Why Grow Lemongrass?

  • There are several reasons to grow lemongrass, from stocking your pantry to scenting your cosmetics.
  • Few things add more flavor to food than fresh, homegrown herbs. You can find fresh lemongrass in a wide variety of Asian recipes as well as teas, cocktails, and other beverages.
  • Not only does fresh lemongrass have a bolder flavor than dried, but it also contains more vitamins and minerals.
  • It contains high levels of essential nutrients, such as manganese, iron, and potassium.
  • In addition to acting as a staple in citrus-centric recipes, lemongrass has long played a role in traditional medicine.
  • Even today, people turn to lemongrass supplements and teas to help treat health complaints such as:
    • Digestive issues and vomiting
    • Headaches and bodily pain
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Coughing or fever
    • Spasms or convulsions
  • Lemongrass also has some cosmetic uses, such as fighting dandruff, acne, and oily skin. Some perfumes use the herb for its bright citrus notes.
  • Fortunately, it’s easy to grow a supply of fresh lemongrass. What’s more, you can harvest and use stalks as needed to ensure your supply never runs low.
  • Lemongrass plants require little in terms of special care or maintenance. You don’t necessarily need a green thumb to master growing lemongrass in pots.

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How To Use Lemongrass

  • Lemongrass boasts a wide variety of uses, but most people know the herb for its unique taste.
  • It’s a popular flavoring in Asian cuisine, including curries, soups, and stir-fries. It can also add a fresh lemony twist to desserts such as ice cream or fruit pastries.
  • Tea lovers often enjoy lemongrass as a part of herbal infusions. You can also find the flavoring in other popular drinks and cocktail mixtures.
  • You can find lemongrass in teas, tinctures, and over-the-counter supplements to help combat a wide range of health issues. Homemade cleaners can also benefit from the addition of fresh lemongrass. It not only adds a pleasant scent to your home but can actively deter insects from invading your house.

Safety Warnings

  • While lemongrass makes a tasty treat for us, it can be harmful to pets and small children.
  • Eating large amounts of the herb can lead to digestive upset, including cramping, nausea, and vomiting.
  • If you grow lemongrass, you should keep it out of reach of any curious pets or young children living around your home.
  • Lemongrass may also be unsafe for pregnant women to consume. It contains citral and myrcene, two compounds known to cause potential birth defects.
  • Lemongrass essential oil is different from the plant and can cause more serious health complications with improper use.
  • Like most essential oils, lemongrass oil can be fatal if consumed by pets or children. It can also cause respiratory issues and inflammation upon contact with skin or mucous membranes. Always keep lemongrass oil out of reach of pets and children. Only use as advised and avoid direct skin contact or ingestion.
Growing Lemongrass in Pots
Growing Lemongrass in Pots

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Final Thoughts

When you grow your own lemongrass, you can enjoy bright and bold citrus flavors whenever the mood strikes. Lemongrass is a hardy plant that’s easy to grow in pots or planters, regardless of your gardening skills.

Using a pot gives you complete control over your lemongrass. You can dictate everything from the watering schedule to soil conditions to produce a healthy and delicious crop every time.