Lemongrass is a delicious and fragrant herb that has a variety of uses in both drinks and cooking. Lemongrass has always been beloved for its refreshing taste, lending a mellow citrus taste and scent to dishes, sauces, and soups.
Fresh lemongrass tea can be enjoyed hot during colder months or poured over ice on sweltering summer days. It’s also a great addition to variety of dishes adding a mild lemon flavor. Whether you’re a lemongrass fan or just finding out more about it, let’s look at how you can start growing lemongrass indoors today.
While lemongrass is very easy to grow, there are a few things to keep in mind for optimal growth. In order to grow healthy lemongrass, you will need to do some light preparations to make everything easy, simple, and low-maintenance.
Here is a list of what you will need to plant lemongrass indoors:
- Potting mix
- Lemongrass (seeds, seedling, or stalk)
- A sunny spot
- Fertilizer, optional
That’s all it takes to grow this delicious herb indoors. With materials out of hte way, let’s jump into how to actually plant and care for lemongrass.
These delightful herbs can grow up to five feet tall when left alone, but indoors can be maintained to grow smaller. In containers, the plant will grow to fill the container, so choose one that fits in your growing space.
The larger your chosen container, the more room your plant will have to grow. Small containers will still work, but expect to harvest less herb as your plant will stop growing as it reaches the bounds of its container.
You can use clay, ceramic, cement, or even plastic containers. Clay pots are the most porous materials, which means you will need to water your lemongrass more frequently but also helps prevent overwatering. This makes it a great option for first time growers.
Whatever material you use, always consider containers with good drainage holes. Drainage holes will ensure that your lemongrass plants don’t grow in soil that is constantly wet from stagnant water. Under this condition, the plants may develop root rot and die, so it’s important to give excess water a place to drain.
There are several options available for you when growing lemongrass indoors. The most common one is using a potting mix. This is usually a combination of peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, pine bark, and other natural materials. Most commercially available potting soil will work perfectly fine, and is the most low effort way to get started.
If you prefer your substrate material to drain even better, then you can add coconut coir. This material drains water really well while keeping the soil adequately moist. You can mix potting soil and coconut coir to your desired consistency.
Lemongrass Seeds and Plants
Lemongrass can be grown through seed, propagation, or as seedlings. Growing lemongrass from seed takes more time than propagation or starting with a seedling. That said, it’s often cheaper to buy seeds, and their growth time is relatively quick. It’s also a lot of fun to see your plants start to sprout from a humble seed.
Lemongrass is also able to be grown from existing stalks. You can buy these in a local grocery store, or cut them from an existing plant.
Once you have them at home, remove the lower parts of the leaves leaving the bulb exposed. Place the entire stalk in a clear glass bottle or jar with some fresh water, making sure that the bulb comes in contact with the water. The water in the glass should be changed daily until roots start to form. Once this happens, your lemongrass is ready for planting. Simply move it to an appropriate container with potting soil
If lemongrass is not immediately available in your area, you can opt to buy seedlings or pre-rooted stalks online. When buying any plant, always ensure it comes from reliable sources and that it can thrive in your location.
How to Plant Lemongrass
Now that you have prepared all the materials, take your container and sterilize it with some alcohol. This will eliminate any fungal, bacterial, and viral spores. Next, fill the container with your potting mix of choice. Potting mixes are often sterilized to prevent weeds, pests, and diseases from showing up.
Pat the potting mix to remove air pockets, and make a hole in the center about an inch deep. Place your rooted lemongrass stalks in the hole, spread the roots out, and cover the stalks with your potting mix. Gently pat the soil, and you’re done. With seeds, plant them to depth as direction on the packaging.
Lemongrass is a tropical plant and will thus require a lot of sunlight. This means your lemongrass should be located near windows that receive a large amount of bright light. East- and south-facing windows are the best locations, but if you are unable to provide the required amount of light, you can always compensate by using plant grow lights.
Grow lights are likely to be a necessity in places that experience cold, dark winters. Make sure during this time your plant is getting enough light as natural light is reduced.
Lemongrass plants require warm temperatures because they are native to tropical countries. This means your indoor temperatures should be at least 40 F, with the most ideal range being 50 F to 70 F. When exposed to cold temperatures or frost your lemongrass is likely to die.
Keep your lemongrass plants away from cold drafts as well. These can cause them to experience fluctuating temperature shocks, which can harm and eventually kill them. When possible, place your lemongrass plants in an area that experiences regular warmth away from any heating or cooling instruments.
Tropical plants prefer humid environments, and lemongrass is no exception. The ideal humidity level to keep your lemongrass thriving should be around 40 percent to 60 percent. However, if you want to increase the humidity around your lemongrass plants, you can always place trays of water and pebbles beneath them.
Simply fill a large tray with gravel or pebbles, then place it under your potted lemongrass plants. Fill the tray halfway with water, and allow evaporation to increase the humidity within the immediate vicinity of your plants. You can use this technique for other indoor plants as well. In fact, grouped indoor plants tend to have increased humidity between them. These types of trays are also available from many plant stores.
Watering Lemongrass Plants
Lemongrass plants that are grown in containers typically require more watering than those grown outdoors. The general rule is to water them daily or every other day, depending on how quickly the soil dries out. For example, if your lemongrass plants are grown in clay pots indoors with warm temperatures and low humidity, you may need to water them daily because the soil can dry out faster. Ideally, watering should be reduced during winter.
You can use this simple technique to find out if your soil is dry. Simply insert your finger an inch into the soil. If the soil is dry, then it’s time to water your lemongrass plant. If not, hold off and check again the next day. Overwatering is the biggest issue indoor gardeners will face, so always check before dousing your plants.
Feeding Lemongrass Plants
Fertilizing your lemongrass is largely optional as they need very little nutrients. In most cases, the soil will provide enough nutrients for growth. You can opt to repot with fresh soil every 2 years to replenish these nutrients.
To improve the health of your lemongrass plants, you can add some compost every 1-2 months during the summer. You can also use fertilizers that are high in nitrogen to boost the foliage growth of your lemongrass plants.
When applying commercial fertilizers, always follow the instructions on the package to prevent damaging your lemongrass plants. Compost is the most ideal because it is a complete and balanced natural fertilizer that releases nutrients slowly over time.
Harvesting Lemongrass Plants
Once your lemongrass plants are well-established, you can begin harvesting them. If you want to use the leaves as ingredients for tea, simply snip them off near the base. Lemongrass bulbs are often used in cooking because their taste and fragrance are the strongest. To harvest the entire stalk, simply remove them from the clump. Periodic harvesting and breaking up the root balls encourage your plants to grow healthier. It also prevents overcrowding.
When harvesting or breaking up your lemongrass clumps, replant them as you would with newly rooted stalks or seedlings. Doing so would cause your lemongrass stalks to become bushier, healthier, and taller.
How to Use Lemongrass
Your harvested lemongrass can be used in many ways. Here are some of the most popular ways you can incorporate lemongrass into your life.
- Add flavor to your rice by chopping it or placing your lemongrass with the rice to cook.
- Stir in chopped lemongrass to stir-fry dishes, salads, soups, and stews, especially in dishes with seafood or chicken.
- Bring a subtle citrus flavor to your favorite marinades by adding smashed or finely chopped lemongrass bulbs.
- Make hot or cold lemongrass tea to suit your mood and the occasion.
- Infusing syrups with lemongrass is a great way to add a touch of flavor to your drinks and desserts.
- Place some lemongrass stalks in a pot of boiling water to repel mosquitoes and other insects while making your whole house smell incredibly fragrant.
- Filling your whole house with the scent of lemongrass can help you reduce stress and anxiety.
Growing Lemongrass Indoors
Growing lemongrass indoors is a very rewarding activity because it allows you to enjoy culinary experiences while decorating your interiors with lush and graceful foliage. Additionally, lemongrass is so easy to cultivate that even new gardeners can do it with little trouble and effort. Now that you know how to successfully grow your own wonderful herbs, there’s nothing that can stop you from becoming a lemongrass expert!
What are the Benefits of Growing Lemongrass Indoors?
There are several advantages to cultivating lemongrass indoors. These include easy access to the plants, the beautiful decorative foliage, and the strong citrusy, gingery fragrance that lingers in the air.
What are the Effects of Drinking Lemongrass?
Drinking lemongrass tea has been known to have health benefits, such as relieving bloating, improving oral health, and lowering feelings of anxiety. Lemongrass oil extract has been suggested to help with stress, anxiety, and depression.
How Much Light Does Lemongrass Need?
Lemongrass likes bright light and should get around 8+ hours of it per day. Less can lead to slowed growth and less plentiful harvests.