Growing Lemongrass indoors: Your Complete Care and Planting Guide
Lemongrass or citronella grass is a tallgrass plant found in many plant lovers’ homes and in Asian dishes. It’s easy to care for and has a unique look and vibe.
In this post, we’re itemizing the nitty-gritty in caring for a lemongrass. We’ve also listed some recommendations if you’re looking to acquire this plant. Read on to find out more about this Cymbopogon’s interesting features!
What Is Lemongrass?
The Lemongrass is known to some as Serai, Oil Grass, and Fever Grass. It is a tallgrass plant made popular for treating digestive tract spasms, stomachache, high blood pressure, convulsions, pain, vomiting, cough, achy joints (rheumatism), fever, the common cold, and exhaustion.
This perennial belongs to the Grasses family. It is a gorgeous plant because of its blue-green, linear leaves. It loves the sun when grown outdoors and indoors.
If you are in hardiness zones 10-11, you have the option to raise your Lemongrass outdoors as they are naturally outdoor plants. When grown indoors, it is typically best to place it on a sunny windowsill or a south-facing window as long as it is a sunny spot.
Origin And Family
The Serai comes from the Cymbopogon genus, which belongs to the Grasses family. This plant is originally from the tropics of East and Southeast Asia. In recent years, it has become a popular houseplant that is typically easy to care for.
Discovered in 1905 by J.F. Jovit, this tall grass plant makes a great addition to any indoor grower’s collection.
Where To Buy
A Lemongrass can usually be purchased from a nursery that specializes in houseplants. Lemongrass is very affordable in the market. With that said, it’s usually a better option to buy it on Etsy, where the prices are more reasonable for plants like this one. I often find the best options there because the plants are usually sold by enthusiasts from their own collections.
Lemongrass Plant Size
At its maturity, the Lemongrass grows about 3-5 feet tall and 4 ft wide indoors. Taking into consideration this plant’s growth potential, light needs, and humidity requirements, you can place it in an area with full sun.
Lemongrass Care Needs
Your Lemongrass will thrive beautifully when it’s properly cared for. It likes to grow in full sun.
In most situations, you’ll want to put enough water in your Cymbopogon every few days or whenever the top inch of soil is already dry. Pour in plenty of water to heavily drench the soil until you see water seeping out from the bottom of the pot. As a sun-loving plant, it will be in its best health when abundantly provided with this requirement.
We’re making it simple for you to care for your Lemongrass with the extensive list of tips below.
This Oil Grass is generally easy to take care of. A well-draining soil and the amount of light are the ultimate considerations for this beauty.
The Fever Grass grows to a mature height of 3-5 feet as a houseplant. Typically, you will observe faster and bushier growth in the early spring.
The majority of Cymbopogon species grow at a fast rate.
Lemongrass Lady!— Sassy Scientist 👩🏼🔬 (@blacksciencegal) May 26, 2022
Grew this bad boy myself 😌
Lemongrass is a powerhouse plant with compounds of mosquito repellent and antimicrobial properties.
Doing research on this plant has been a blast so far! 😁 pic.twitter.com/tIqQe2aUw6
In terms of potting container size, we recommend using a small pot in the beginning. Most materials will work perfectly. Serai is susceptible to root rot. Make sure to use enough drainage holes in its pot.
Lemongrass plants typically need to be repotted every year or every few years. When this happens, carefully remove the plant from its pot but be careful not to disrupt the main root ball. You can then transfer the plant into a bigger pot. The roots will adapt quicker when it’s planted in the same substrate that it is used to.
The Oil Grass does best in a rich, free-draining soil. Make sure you choose components with the right moisture-retention properties for your soil. Use organic matter to create your own soil mix.
Root rot and other diseases can be avoided with efficient drainage. Consider adding chunky and gritty materials to your soil to improve aeration.
These are some good substrate options for your plant:
For this Fever Grass, you’ll need a soil pH of around 6.5 to 7.0. A simple pH meter device can be purchased online to check your soil if the pH is worrying you
If the pH of your soil is substantial, you can improve acidity by adding sulfur or aluminum sulfate.
If the pH of your soil is weak, you can add baking soda, calcitic or dolomitic lime, or wood ash.
Your Serai will want to stay in a moist soil in between regular watering schedules. Touch the soil with your finger and check every few days or whenever the top inch of the soil becomes dry. If this is the situation, thoroughly drench your plant until water leaks out of the pot’s bottom.
Overwatering is one of the major causes of indoor plant deaths. When uncertain, underwatering your Serai is typically preferred to overwatering it. Use well-draining soil and a pot with adequate drainage holes to keep your plant’s roots from drowning.
You’ll want to reproduce the natural environment of Lemongrass, which would be the tropics of East and Southeast Asia. This plant loves full sunlight. Give your fresh Lemongrass 6 hours of sunlight each day. You can also place this plant in an area with full sun.
If this plant doesn’t get enough light, it will become quite leafy and thin, and the stalks won’t fatten up as much.
Avoid clustering Lemongrass.
A nitrogen-rich fertilizer is ideal for the Oil Grass. During the spring, feed your plant once a month. In winter, growth will naturally slow down, so you don’t need to feed your plant.
It is possible to propagate a Serai with the right methods. Here are various techniques for propagating this Tall grass houseplant.
Stem Cuttings In Soil
Stem cuttings planted directly in the soil are a hassle-free way to propagate your Serai. It is best to propagate this plant when it’s actively in its growing season during spring.
1. Cut. Snip a 3-inch long section of your plant using sterilized scissors to avoid bacterial infection. Make sure it’s from a healthy portion of your plant and with fresh growth and visible nodes.
2. Plant. In damp soil, plant the cutting with the nodes buried. Make sure to keep it in place by pushing the dirt around the stem.
3. Maintain. Moisten the soil frequently to encourage faster rooting. Leave the plant near a window in bright or direct sunlight.
4. Wait. Within 2-3 weeks, you should find new buds on the top leaves. This indicates that your cutting is now rooted!
Division is a propagation method typically used for plants that have pups shooting out from the roots.
You can divide the stem clusters of your Fever Grass by following these steps:
1. Dig up. Take the plant out of its container. You should be able to see where the plant’s natural divisions are.
2. Separate. With your fingers, gently separate the sections apart. You may need to use shears to cut any entangled roots.
3. Repot. Plant each section in new pots filled with the same soil that they’re used to.
Humidity And Aeration
The Cymbopogon Flexuosus plant is a sharp-edged plant resembling a sharp knife that prefers humid conditions.
You may consider getting a humidifier if your Lemongrass has curling or crispy leaves that have brown edges. This device will constantly release steam and significantly raise the humidity in a room.
lemongrass is a plant that repel insects. Lemongrass contains citronella, a natural oil often in insect-repelling.— Divine Protection 913 (@913Divine) April 7, 2020
This is one of th 6 powerful oils we use in our spray pic.twitter.com/pULiCfYs7Y
Warm climates and warm temperatures are preferable for Fever Grass plants. Typically, they can thrive in a temperature ranging from 77–86 degrees Fahrenheit.
They do, however, like constant temperatures, so keep them away from windows and openings that may allow chilly air in during winter months and cold seasons or when you are in a place with cold climates. Also, keep them distant from vents and other sources of heat, which can dry the air.
Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems
The lemongrass plant is resistant to several bugs, issues, and diseases. In the sections below, I’ll lay out some of the common issues for the Lemongrass, as well as some tips and tricks to treat them.
Unfortunately, spider mites are quite widespread, and Fever Grass is particularly vulnerable. Spider mite damage will seem like tiny brown or yellow patches on your plant’s leaves. You might also find fine, silky webbing when the infestation is severe.
Start by spraying down your Fever Grass with water from a sink nozzle or a pressure sprayer. This basically removes the spider mites from the plant. If the first step fails, an organic pyrethrin spray will serve you well.
If you want a more organic method, releasing ladybugs in your indoor growing space can help diminish spider mite populations. There’s also a beetle recognized as the “Spider Mite Destroyer,” which may be tough to acquire, but the name speaks for itself!
Whiteflies are gnat-like garden pests that feed on the sap of your houseplants. Having them on your Serai can be a big inconvenience. They deposit eggs which will hatch into larvae that eat the undersides of your plant’s leaves.
You can get rid of Whiteflies using a general pesticide. You may either buy it online or make one using the recipe below:
• To create your base, mix these ingredients together: 5 drops of dish soap (make sure it doesn’t have any bleach in it!) + 1 cup of vegetable or olive oil.
• For every cup of water, add 1.5 tsp of the prepared mixture.
• Shake the solution well and then transfer it to a spray bottle.
• Spray all surfaces of the infected plant, especially on the underside of leaves.
Scale insects might seem like a cluster on the stems or leaves of your Lemongrass. These small bugs, which may be green, brown, gray, or black in color, usually remain sedentary once they’ve latched onto a plant.
If the infestation isn’t too extensive, you can discourage scale insects from attacking your plant by pouring a teaspoon of neem oil in four cups of water. Spray the plant intensely with a spray bottle.
Neem oil and horticultural oils may not be effective in killing pests but will certainly cause some damage to them. There are numerous insecticide sprays against scales that are regarded as safe to use indoors.
Aphids are tiny bugs that will eat the leaves of your Oil Grass, resulting in black and brown spots.
Apply neem oil or insecticidal soap to treat an infestation. Weak concentrations of dish detergent can also kill aphids without harming your plant. Choose a product that is free of fragrances, such as Ivory Liquid for example.
Start by diluting 1 teaspoon of dish soap in 1 gallon of water, then increase the ratio as necessary. Spray this solution on your affected plant, especially on the underside of leaves where aphids can be usually found.
Mealybugs may infest your Fever Grass. These little parasites damage your Cymbopogon by inserting a feeding tube into the plant tissues and sucking on the sap. They can eventually weaken or even kill your plant.
To get rid of them, soak a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol, then use its tip to manually remove each mealybug. Neem oil can also be sprayed on the leaves to suffocate these bugs.
Brown Leaf Tips
One common cause of browning edges on your Serai’s leaves is a build-up of salts and minerals in the soil. This typically happens if you apply too much fertilizer or if you use chemically-treated tap water.
Another reason for browning leaf tips is the lack of moisture. Water your plant appropriately, and improve your indoor humidity.
My mom wanted to make sure her lemongrass plant would be warm and the rice bag was a perfect fit! pic.twitter.com/v1goKxK1fN— Kiwi (@kiwikamikaze) November 29, 2021
Drooping leaves on your Lemongrass are normally an indication that your plant is thirsty. In this case, once hydrated, your plant will typically perk back up. It may also be helpful to improve the humidity.
Take note! Plants infested with pests may have curled and droopy leaves at first, but they may subsequently develop other symptoms such as spots, reduced development, and a general loss in health. If you start to notice pests, always inspect the underside of the leaves.
Yellowing leaves on Oil Grass can be caused by lack of light, too much light, overwatering, underwatering, nutrient deficiency, overfertilization, recent disruption of the roots, changes in temperature and humidity, presence of pests, and many others.
If you’re confused, don’t worry! Gardening requires trial and error to figure out the ideal conditions for your plants, and even master gardeners are learning new things every day.
It is usually encouraged to prune off yellowing leaves so the plant won’t waste its energy trying to “save” the leaf instead of supplying nutrients to new leaves.
Root rot is a prevalent cause of death for Fever Grass. If your soil is too compact, it will become water-logged and eventually rot the roots of your plant. Because it’s difficult to stop this disease, prevention is the best course of action.
The simplest way to avoid root rot is to decrease the amount and frequency that you water your Cymbopogon. Before watering your plant, make sure to check if the top 3 inches of the soil are dry. If not, your plant will have to wait a bit longer!
Regarding potting material, porosity is a property that allows air to flow and dry the soil while allowing excess moisture to escape. Porous pots can be made of baked terracotta, clay, ceramic (unglazed), or concrete. Ensure that you choose one that has drainage holes at the bottom!
Love Lemongrass? Here are some other similar plant options you should try:
Cilantro – One annual herb belonging to the Apiaceae family is cilantro. It is also referred to as coriander, dhania, and Chinese parsley. Although the entire plant can be eaten, fresh leaves and dried seeds are the ones that are most frequently utilized in recipes.
Basil – Basil, sometimes known as great basil, is a member of the Lamiaceae family and is used in cooking. It is a fragile plant that is utilized in cuisines all over the world. The kind, also known as sweet basil or Genovese basil, is referred to simply as “basil” in Western cuisine.
Thyme – Thyme is an aromatic perennial evergreen plant in the Lamiaceae mint family that belongs to the genus Thymus.
With its attractive characteristics, Lemongrass is a terrific choice if you’re looking for a new houseplant. Your efforts for this plant will result in a gorgeous exotic flower that you will appreciate having in your house! It is a great addition to your herb garden and is especially great for culinary use. Grow your own Lemongrass by following the above tips to keep your lemongrass healthy.
Can’t get enough of plant guides? Check out these other options below.
Help us grow! This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something recommended. All opinions, however, are our own, and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.