A picture of a Lemongrass

Lemongrass

Cymbopogon citratus

Also known as

West Indian Lemongrass, Lemon Grass

Starr 080608-7551 Cymbopogon citratus by Forest & Kim Starr (CC BY 3.0)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Tender

12b

USDA zone

13°C

Minimum temperature

Expected size

Height
Spread

1.8m

Max

1.5m

80cm

Min

50cm

2 years to reach maturity

Flowering

  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images of Lemongrass

Starr 080531-4968 Cymbopogon citratus
Lemon Grass 2
WawaDamjf5964 10
A photo of Lemongrass

Lemongrass Overview

Cymbopogon citratus is an evergreen grass species from the Poaceae family. It is also known by the names Lemongrass and Citronella Grass, amongst others. Lemongrass is an easy to grow tropical grass with long thin leaves that grow in tall clumps. It forms hollow, cane-like stems with blue-green leaves. The plant's leaves and stems have a distinct lemony citrus fragrance as well as a strong citrus flavour. Young shoots can also be prepared as a vegetable. Leaves grow up to 90cm in length. Flowers are pink to green-brown in colour. The flowers are arranged in loose, branching sprays, appearing from later summer-autumn. Due to its height, it can be grown as a scented, ornamental grass. Lemongrass has various uses such as culinary, medicinal, cosmetic, essential oils and as an insect repellent. It grows best in full sun and well-draining, moist soil. Lemongrass is tender and won't cope with freezing temperatures.

Common problems with Lemongrass

Few pests bother Lemongrass. Occasionally Lemongrass will be affected by leaf blight and indoor plants may be attacked by spider mites.

Lemongrass Companion Plants

Lemongrass are great as a borderplant for vegetable gardens.

How to harvest Lemongrass

Start harvesting as soon as plants are 30 cm tall and stem bases are at least 1 cm thick. Leaves and stalks can be harvested throughout the growing season. Young stalks can be pulled by hand or cut at ground level and the leaves trimmed and discarded. Alternatively, dig up the plant and divide the root ball, replanting part of the plant to generate fresh growth.

How to propagate Lemongrass

Division

Divide the root ball and replant immediately.

Cuttings

Fresh shoots purchased for cooking can be rooted.

Seed

In spring sow the seeds onto the surface of a pre watered tray or pot of seed compost. Firm the seeds into place but do not cover. Place into a heated propagator between 13 to 18C. Transfer the germinated seedlings when they are large enough to handle, 3 to a 3cm pot and grow on in a sunny but frost free location. Pot on when roots appear out of the bottom. Once the threat of all frost has passed , they can be planted out into a sunny and sheltered position. Keep well watered.

Rhizomes

Cut off at least 2cm from the end of the leaves of a lemongrass stalk, and put the base end in a glass of water in the sun until roots sprout. Transplant when roots are 2 cm long.

Special features of Lemongrass

Crop rotation

Lemongrass is a light feeder

Attracts useful insects

Attracts honey bees

Repels harmful insects

Repels some insects, like mosquitoes and whiteflies.

Pot plant

Lemongrass can be planted in a pot at least 30 cm across, in a wind protected area either outdoors or indoors, provided they receive enough light.

Indoor plant

Attractive leaves

The bases of the stems are frequently harvested to use in oriental cooking.

Other uses of Lemongrass

This frost tender plant suits being grown in containers in sheltered spots.

Medicinal

South American folk medicine used the grass for treating hypertension, inflammation, nervousness, sleep disorders, infection, fevers and gastrointestinal disorders.

Edible

Stems and leaves are edible

Cosmetic and as essential oil