Lemongrass is a perennial tropical herb that has many culinary and medicinal uses. It has a strong citrus flavor and aroma. This plant is very easy to grow as long as it is kept out of the cold. 
This versatile plant can be grown in pots, making it an excellent option for small gardens or indoor spaces. But if you live in a warm climate area, you can just grow lemongrass easily outdoors without worrying that this herb will freeze in wintertime.
Lemongrass is from the grass family, forming dense clumps that can reach up to 6 feet (183 cm) tall and 4 feet (122 cm) wide in the wild. When grown in pots, lemongrass can grow 3 to 4 feet (91 to 122 cm) in height. Growing lemongrass in pots is an easy way to enjoy the flavor of fresh lemongrass all year round.
- What You Need to Know Before You Start
- How to Plant Lemongrass in Pots?
- How to Care for Lemongrass in Pots?
- How to Harvest Lemongrass in Pots?
- Problems When Growing Lemongrass
What You Need to Know Before You Start Growing Lemongrass
The good news is that lemongrass is relatively easy to grow and can be grown in pots. But before you start growing lemongrass, there are a few things you need to know.
- First, lemongrass is a tropical plant. It cannot tolerate frost, so it must be grown in a warm and humid environment. If you live in an area with a colder climate, you will need to change where you live if you want to grow lemongrass… Joking! 🙂 You just grow it in a pot and move the plant indoors during the cold season.
- Second, lemongrass spreads quickly and can grow tall when growing outdoors. However, when growing in pots, the size of this herb is controlled by the size of the container. So, the larger the container, the taller and wider the lemongrass will grow.
- Third, lemongrass is generally free of pests and diseases when grown correctly. However, spider mites and diseases such as leaf blight, rust, and little leaf (grassy shoots) are known to infect when the plant is stressed.
- Fourth, lemongrass needs full sun (6 hours minimum) and well-drained soil. It prefers rich loam soil with high organic content. Still, it can tolerate poor soil as long as adequate moisture and good drainage are available.
How to Plant Lemongrass in Pots?
Now that you know what you need to know, it’s time to start!
Step 1. Choose the Right Pot
Choose a pot based on the plant size you intend to grow. For example, the bigger the pot, the larger the plant will grow, as there will be more space for roots to develop.
If you are only testing out, smaller pots will be just fine. After all, you can always transfer it to a bigger pot later if it grows well.
Pro Tip: If you want to grow multiple herbs but don’t have much space for all pots, the best option is to grow your plants vertically. You can build a homemade vertical gardening tower or add Garden Tower from Garden Tower Project to your collection. This system will allow you to grow multiple plants in one space. Also, it is easily movable if you have the wheels added. So, you can just push it indoors when it is too cold.
Step 2. Choose the Right Soil
Lemongrass prefers well-drained, rich loam soil with high organic matter. However, this herb is not picky and will do well enough in soil from the backyard.
If you do choose to use purchased soil, look for soil that is lightweight, crumbly, and rich in nutrients.
Step 3. Start Lemongrass Indoors
Lemongrass can be propagated from seeds, division, or cuttings. Let’s discuss each method individually.
Starting Lemongrass from Seeds
- Fill the pot with soil.
- Sow the seeds 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep and cover them with soil.
- Slightly press the soil and then spray water on top. Use a spray bottle to moisten the soil. High-pressure water can wash the seeds away.
- Place the pot in a warm, dark place until the seeds germinate.
- Seeds will germinate in 7-21 days. Keep the soil moist but not wet until then.
- Transplant seedlings into individual containers when they are 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) tall.
Starting Lemongrass from Division
- To propagate lemongrass from the division, gently remove an established plant from its current container.
- Divide the root ball.
- Fill up the pot with well-draining soil, and use your finger to make a large hole to accommodate the root ball.
- Plant each division in its own pot. Firmly press the soil around the root ball to secure it in place.
- Water well and keep the soil moist but not wet. Place it in an area that receives full sun exposure (6 hours minimum).
Starting Lemongrass from Cuttings
- To propagate lemongrass from cuttings, start with a lemongrass stalk that is at least 6 inches (15 cm) tall. This stalk should have at least a few roots.
- Trim any brown or older leaves.
- Place the lemongrass stalk into a glass with water.
- Change the water every 2 days until the roots grow nice and long. It should take 7 to 14 days.
- Prepare a pot filled with soil for planting the rooted stalk.
- Use your finger to make a hole and insert the rooted stalk.
- Firmly press the soil around the lemongrass to secure it in place.
- Water the soil well and place the lemongrass in the area that receives full sun exposure.
Pro Tip: You can propagate lemongrass from seeds, division, or cuttings outdoors but move pots indoors when temperatures start to drop. If you leave it in cold weather, your plants will not survive.
How to Care for Lemongrass in Pots?
Lemongrass is a relatively low-maintenance plant. Once established, lemongrass will need little care other than an occasional trimming to keep it looking its best.
Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and place the plant in a location that gets full sun.
Lemongrass is drought-tolerant, so you only need to water it when the soil feels dry to the touch. But it does not do well in cold conditions. So, if you are keeping the plant pots outdoors, bring them inside when temperatures start to drop.
This herb will grow in poor soil, but it needs to be fertilized once in a while to replenish the nutrients. Fertilize lemongrass with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season. Cut back on fertilizer during the winter months when growth slows down.
So to keep it short, lemongrass needs:
- A lot of sunlight,
- Moist soil,
- No cold temperatures,
- Some fertilizer,
- Occasional trimming.
How to Harvest Lemongrass in Pots?
The best time to harvest lemongrass is in the fall, just before the cold weather hits. You can harvest leaves and stalks.
Leaves can be used to make tea or enhance the soup’s flavor. Stalks are great for dishes such as stir-fries, stew, or soups.
Harvesting Lemongrass Leaves
Simply cut leaves and dry them. When they are dry, they will be ready to use. You can keep them in an airtight container or bag and use them anytime.
They will last longer when dried and won’t lose their aroma. However, the best way to preserve the leaves is to freeze them.
Harvesting Lemongrass Stalks
Snap or cut stalks at the base of the plant. Cut the leaves and roots. You should have approximately 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm) long stalks left.
Freeze lemongrass stalks if you are not planning to use them immediately.
Before use, peel the outer leaves off the stalk, leaving only a white inner stem and a bulb.
Problems When Growing Lemongrass
Lemongrass is typically free of pests and diseases when grown correctly. But, spider mites are known to infect the plant when the soil is left dry for too long.
If you have a spider mite infestation, place the plant under a shower and spray it with plenty of water. Don’t forget the underside of the leaves. This should get rid of most of the spider mites.
Spider mites don’t like a moist environment. To prevent infestation, don’t let the soil dry out.
Pro Tip: Avoid spraying any products on lemongrass. If absolutely necessary, use organic and non-toxic spray. A homemade spray mixture of 3 tablespoons of dish soap to 1 gallon (approx. 4 liters) of water will kill spider mites. You can use the same mixture for many other garden pests.
Lemongrass is also usually free of diseases when grown correctly. However, diseases such as leaf blight, rust, and little leaf (grassy shoots) are known to infect when the plant is stressed. 
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Lemongrass Annual or Perennial?
Lemongrass is a perennial plant, not an annual. This herb usually will not survive cold winters. It grows best in warm climates where the temperature remains consistently over 40 oF (4 oC).
Does Lemongrass Repel Mosquitoes?
Lemongrass oil is an effective repellent against mosquitoes and houseflies. The plant itself, not so much. Mosquitos will not hang out near the lemongrass plant for long, but the herb will not keep them away from sucking your blood… blaaa bla bla bla (that’s my vampire impression…).
What To Do Next?
Hope you found the answer to the question “how to grow lemongrass in pots?” and you are ready to start growing your own lemongrass plant.
Check out our Growing Guides to learn more about how to grow plants of your choice. Learn and help your plants by reading these guides.
Also, check out other similar articles in our Gardening How To section.
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