Lemongrass, or Cymbopogon citratus, is an herb that can be used in a myriad of reasons.
Other than being used for Asian dishes and meals, this plant has been known to ease issues with the digestive system, low-grade fevers, high blood pressure, and achy joints. Growing it indoors is easy!
As one would expect, you can find this herb in the family Poaceae, or grasses and sedges. The Lemongrass plant can be found naturally in the tropical grasslands of South Asia and Australia.
They are known for their citrus-scented leaves that grow in thick clumps. This article will focus on how to keep your Lemongrass happy so that you can use it however you see fit!
- 1 LEMONGRASS PLANT CARE BASICS
- 2 WATERING WAYS FOR A LEMONGRASS PLANT
- 3 COPYING YOUR LEMONGRASS PLANT
- 4 CITRONELLA PLANT PEST PROBLEMS
- 6 SAD LEMONGRASS PLANT SIGNS
- 7 5 TAKEAWAYS TO A HEALTHY LEMONGRASS PLANT
- 8 LEMONGRASS PLANT CARE FAQ
LEMONGRASS PLANT CARE BASICS
These members of Poaceae are quick to grow as long as you can copy their natural habitat. By making sure that they get all of the essentials, you’ll have a fragrant flora that you can use in some recipes!
Cymbopogon citratus needs quite a few nutrients in order to grow properly. Giving it plenty organic matter such as compost, leaf mold, and manure is a great way to supply them with everything they need.
This is especially true if you decide to raise it in a pot instead of out in the garden. Loamy soil also works wonders! The soil should also be able to drain properly.
Lemongrass typically does best when placed in soil that is fairly neutral, somewhere between 6.8 and 7.2 for the pH.
Having a pot of grass might sound a bit silly, but it’s extremely beneficial! And better yet, they add a pop of green to your home. These plants do better when given high levels of sun exposure.
Placing them in a windowsill where they can receive full, direct sunlight is the perfect spot. Plants that grow at a quicker rate, such as grasses, tend to need more light.
You’ll want to keep them in a spot that gets plenty of sunshine even in the winter. The stalks of a Lemongrass plant quickly shift to a brown hue when not given adequate food in the form of chlorophyll.
One of the trickiest parts about plant care can be figuring out the watering schedule. Lemongrass makes it easy! Usually, overwatering your flora will result in root rot, but this herb welcomes it.
You can give it as much water as you like, so long as the soil does not become muddy. The drying out of roots is far more hazardous than adding too much moisture to your Lemongrass.
If you want a healthy herb, consider watering daily during the warmer months.
We’ve discussed how much light these plants need in order to be happy. Well, the same goes for overall warmth. In their natural habitat, Cymbopogon citratus would experience hot periods during the growing season.
Trying to replicate this within your home would keep it fragrant and lively. Anything below 4 degrees Celsius will result in stunted or halted growth.
Ideally, you should keep your Lemongrass plant within a spot that is much warmer than this, especially during the growing seasons.
If you’ve ever visited the southeastern regions of Asia, you may have noticed how humid it was. Most of the plants in those areas need plenty of water, either through rainfall or moisture trapped in the air.
Don’t let this concern you too much. The average household should have enough humidity for a Lemongrass plant. Just be mindful of the different areas that can be a bit too dry for your herb.
Such areas include near an open window or a heating vent. You can also increase the humidity through routine misting if you’re unsure about the dryness of your home.
Plants that tend to grow rapidly generally need to be supplied with a lot of nutrients. The most important element for a Lemongrass is nitrogen.
Slow release fertilizers tend to do the trick. Only add this food during the growing seasons, and on a monthly basis. Lemongrass has a dormant period that lasts through the fall and winter.
They don’t require any help in regards to food during this time. If you’re still unsure about the nutrients found in soil, read our article on Fertilization 101!
Propagating your Lemongrass plant is a great way to grow your delectable herb without needing to go to the store. Due to an extremely quick growth rate, Cymbopogon citratus is easy to copy from the parent plant.
The easiest way to go about doing this is by division. Lemongrass can also be propagated through the use of stem cuttings. In fact, you can even buy these at the store.
These plants are known for their high success rate in terms of rooting. We will have a section later on that is dedicated to the detailed steps involving division.
Grasses aren’t particularly known for their overall size. This makes them an easy addition to any home.
It may take a while, but Citronella plants can grow to be quite leggy. When left unattended for too long, blooms will diminish. Pruning is one way that you can keep these individuals healthy.
Another technique is transplanting, or repotting. This will stop the roots from growing out to be too long, thus affecting the overall health of the plant.
For Lemongrass plants, you’ll need to transfer them to a different pot once every few years. Fortunately, these small perennials don’t need to be repotted due to their overall size and slow growth rate.
WATERING WAYS FOR A LEMONGRASS PLANT
Providing water for your Citronella plant is not all that tricky as long as you remember that they prefer to be on the drier side of the spectrum.
This does not mean that they like to be dried out, however. They still need a fair amount of moisture in order to survive. Overall, plant enthusiasts agree that Lemongrass plants like to have about 30 inches of water annually.
The general rule of thumb for finding the right schedule is to check the soil directly. Stick your finger into the top two inches of soil.
If it is dry, then you should water enough water to fully saturate the soil to the roots. On average, you can expect to water your Citronella plant once every few days.
COPYING YOUR LEMONGRASS PLANT
There are several methods that you can choose to propagate your Geranium, but stem cuttings are usually the most advantageous.
Choosing to copy the parent plant through division is not all that successful, the roots failing to root. Here are the steps involved within a stem cutting propagation.
PROPAGATION THROUGH STEM CUTTINGS
- Start out by finding the plant that you would like to copy, preferably one without dead foliage, and that smells quite fresh.
- Take clean, sharp scissors and make incisions on a stem just below the node. These cuts should be about four to six inches in length.
- Any leaves that are located towards the end of the stem should be carefully stripped.
- Place the stem cuttings with the open side down, into a pot with fresh soil.
- Water the new individual thoroughly and set it into a spot with bright, indirect sunlight.
- Check on the new individuals, watering whenever the soil feels dry. This should take about a week or two. From there, transfer it to a larger pot.
CITRONELLA PLANT PEST PROBLEMS
You may have heard that Lemongrass plants get their name due to their repelling properties. Although somewhat successful in that regard, they actually do not fully deter Lemongrasses from invading your home.
But, do these individuals have pests of their own?
As far as actually being under attack by bugs themselves, these Geraniums don’t have to worry. They do a pretty good job of keeping beetles, squash bugs, hornworms, aphids, and whiteflies at bay.
What they have to worry about most are diseases.
Leaf blight is the most deadly disease that you could find in your Lemongrass plant.
The best way to tackle such a problem is to use specifically designed fungicides. If you catch it early enough, it won’t take many treatments.
SAD LEMONGRASS PLANT SIGNS
The Lemongrass plant, as a whole, is relatively hardy. That, however, does not make them immune to certain problems and issues. Knowing what to look for ahead of time can save your plant from serious harm later down the road.
Problem #1: LEAVES DROOPING
Leaves that look a bit sad and tend to droop are a clear indicator that your Geranium is experiencing soil that is dried out.
To fix the drooping of the plant’s foliage, attempt to alter your watering schedule. We suggest that you do this in increments, as Citronella can be sensitive to too much water.
Problem #2: YELLOW FOLIAGE
If you notice yellowing of the leaves, you should assume that your Lemongrass plant is battling with overwatering.
The best solution is to let your plant dry out, followed by an adjusted watering schedule. It might take a while to find the right routine.
Problem #3: BLACK SPOTS
Black spots on the leaves usually occur in combination with the browning of lower leaves. These are hints that your plant is grappling with too much sun exposure.
Remember that these floras prefer bright, indirect sunlight. Moving your plant to a spot that gets less sun is usually a better move.
Problem #4: CURLING LEAVES
White spots and the curling of the leaves can be a sign that you may not be providing enough sunlight for your Citronella.
Find a spot in your house that gets plenty of sunshine, preferably one near a large window. Even full sunlight for six to eight hours each day is perfectly fine for these individuals.
5 TAKEAWAYS TO A HEALTHY LEMONGRASS PLANT
Although fairly resilient, Citronella does have preferences. Keeping these five takeaways in mind will help keep your tropical perennial happy!
- Give them loads of full, direct sunlight, even from inside!
- Watch your watering ways, making sure that the plant is not getting too much moisture so that the roots will become waterlogged.
- A temperature between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius is ideal.
- Keep the humidity relatively high through the use of humidifiers and misters!
- Look out for signs of blight so that you can tackle it with fungicides early on.
LEMONGRASS PLANT CARE FAQ
Do Lemongrass plants really work to deter bugs from invading your home?
As a whole, these floras do actually work to help deter bugs from invading your home. Citronella emits a smell that is unappealing for such bugs. There are, however, other plants that have a higher success rate.
Does Citronella grow back every year?
Being a perennial, Citronella does in fact come back annually. In some areas of the world, it is grown as an annual, so just be sure to do your research.
How do you prune a Lemongrass plant?
Pruning is a great way to stop your Citronella from becoming too leggy. To do so, you can pinch back the stems once they reach anywhere longer than four inches in length. You’ll want to pinch above the leaf to remove any stems. There should be at least three leaves per stem for a healthy plant.
Is Cymbopogon citratus poisonous to cats & dogs?
Combopogon citratus (Citronella) is poisonous to both cats & dogs. Therefore, keep this plant away from your pets.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.