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How to Grow Lemongrass

by Greenthumb on September 10, 2011


Lemongrass or Lemon Grass

Lemongrass (sometimes called Lemon Grass) is a super-easy herb to grow!

It’s a member of the grass family like corn, wheat and your lawn. It’s useful in the kitchen, wonderful in teas and makes a gorgeous ornamental herb in the garden. In much of the USA it is grown as an annual or brought indoors to overwinter… being winter hardy only to zone 10.

There are several different types of Lemongrass.

You may see plants labeled as East or West Indian Lemongrass.

Among these are Cymbopogon citratus which is found in Thai cooking and has a slightly enlarged base- sort of like you see with scallions. The leaves are used for tisanes, or teas.

There is also Cymbopogon flexuosus. This one can be started from seed and is also used in cooking with the leaves  also being used in teas and flavorings.

You may also see Cymbopogon nardus or C. winterianus which has these reddish stems. These plants are grown and  harvested for oil production. The oil is used in fragrances and flavorings. As with the other plants the leaves can be used for teas.

Base of Lemongrass plant

Base of the Lemongrass plant

All of these plants have long leaves with sharp edges. They all have a lemony fragrance and can become quite large in the garden, with some getting 3′ tall or more and just as wide. They also all like warmth, full sun, and moist but well draining soil.

Where do you find a Lemongrass plant?

If you are lucky enough to have an Asian market within driving distance you can often find Lemongrass stalks there. If you can find one with a few little roots attached ( like the two below) they can often be placed in a glass of water to really root out.

Lemongrass Stalks

Lemongrass Stalks

Once they have developed roots you can plant them. If that’s out of the question, you may also hit the jackpot and find started plants in a garden center near you.

Freshly Dug Lemongrass Roots

Fresh Lemon Grass

Many started nursery plants are just labeled Lemongrass and you won’t always know which you have. That’s OK, you can just use the leaves or grow it for the pretty plant that it is.

You can plant your Lemongrass in a container if you like, they do very well in pots. You may need to bump up the size of the pot after awhile, these things will grow fast… particularly once the summer heats up.

Potted Lemongrass Roots

Help! I Need Re-potting

If your Lemongrass has gotten really big and you want to divide it, you can try jabbing it with a shovel. By jabbing I mean jabbing the shovel into the middle of the plant, stepping on the shovel and prying the plant apart.

If you can’t separate it that way, then try two digging forks placed back to back in the center of the plant to separate it. Other alternatives might be a large knife or saw. Even with larger potted plants the fibrous roots are often so tightly woven together that it can’t be divided with small garden trowels.  Or at least I can’t do it with trowels.

Once you have wrestled separated your roots, clip back the plant down towards the base, replant or pot them and you’ll have lots more Lemongrass in no time!




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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Olivia June 27, 2013 at 12:45 am

HI there, I live in Perth, Western Australia. I’ve got two plants of lemongrass, they were doing well, but the leaves have some rusty looking marks on them. Are you able to tell me what I need to do to get rid of that? It is winter here, but doesn’t get much cooler that 5 C, as they are not in pots but the garden, but somewhat sheltered. Could the soil be deficient in something?


Greenthumb July 6, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Hi Olivia,
I am not sure what would cause that in your area unless it’s just a bit too chilly for them. You may need to contact a local nursery and ask. Good luck! ~Rhonda


ainsley h May 9, 2013 at 9:21 am

I’m from New Zealand and I was wondering , can lemongrass be grown here ? is it too cold ? what conditions do lemongrass need to be grown under ?
thanks :)


Greenthumb July 6, 2013 at 7:07 pm

I would think so, I’m not sure what your temperatures are like. It does well with warmth, moist soil and plenty of light. Lemongrass will grow in a large container but if container grown the roots can become large and tangled if not harvested fairly often.


Katy March 25, 2013 at 5:36 am

I’ve got lemon grass plants I grew from seed. I have to bring the pots indoors in winter – we live in central Italy and here it gets to -5 at night sometimes (rare but can happen).


Greenthumb April 4, 2013 at 12:55 am

Hi Katy-
Hello to you ion Italy! We have to bring ours in, too. It doesn’t seem to mind being indoors in the winter though and seems happy to go back out in the late Spring.


sb February 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Hi, great thanks! I just put two stalks in water. Let´s see what comes of them.. They´re not exactly fresh as I purchased them in a Thai store in Reykjavík so they´ve come a long way.. Haha!


Margriet January 21, 2013 at 2:02 am

k,Vind het leuk het te laten groeien. Maar waar is zone 10 ? Ik woon in the Netherlands, x Thanks for answering.


Greenthumb January 21, 2013 at 2:34 am

Hello Margriet! Zone 10 in de Verenigde Staten zou zijn vey warm-plaatsen in Florida, en Hawaï! ;) Citroengras zal groeien bij warm weer. Het zal groeien binnen in koude gebieden met licht en warmte. Good luck! ~ Rhonda


Margriet January 21, 2013 at 1:58 am

Ik wil het graag van,t voorjaar planten, mits ik in zone 10 moet wonen ? Welke zone en waar is dat. k,Woon in Holland. Bedankt vast voor,t antwoord.


Andrea September 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm

This was perfect:) Thanks again!


Greenthumb September 20, 2011 at 4:17 am

Great! I’m so glad you found some to grow :-)


Abhijit S March 12, 2013 at 9:30 am

Is Lemongrass known to repel mosquitoes?
If so, they can be kept indoors too.
What is your experience?


Greenthumb March 12, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Lemongrass is a “mild” repellant! It can be used by those sensitive to other bug repellants. I wonder if indoors the fresh plant must be bruised or crushed to emit the oils? That would be something to try!


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