By Jennifer Poindexter
Do you like the way houseplants add an inviting touch to your home? Wouldn’t it be great to grow houseplants which also function, outside of being used for décor? Growing herbs indoors is a great way to accomplish this. You can have gorgeous foliage in your home, year-round, while also being able to eat the plant providing it.
If you like this idea, lemongrass should be on your list. Not only is it a gorgeous houseplant, but it’s also easy to grow. Even if you don’t have much gardening experience, you won’t need it for this plant. Here’s what you should know to grow lemongrass in your home:
What You Might Need to Grow Lemongrass Indoors
When growing lemongrass there are a few things you might need. To begin, you need a larger planter to handle this herb. It can grow to be larger than some of the more familiar herb choices. However, even if you don’t have a larger planter, lemongrass can be divided to make multiple smaller indoor houseplants.
Don’t let the planter size deter you from attempting to grow this herb indoors. The only other items you need are what it will take to create a proper grow space. If you don’t have a ton of sunlight in your home, it might be wise to invest in a grow light or other LED lights.
If you use a grow light for your lemongrass, ensure you have a place to hang it. It shouldn’t be more than a foot above the plant. Unless you’re setting your planter on the floor, you will also need a flat surface to place the lemongrass while it’s growing. By providing an adequate planter, a safe place for the lemongrass to grow, and proper lighting you’re giving your herb a nice starting point.
Growing Conditions for Lemongrass Indoors
Lemongrass has only a few specific needs which must be met to set this plant up for success. Their growing environment must consist of a large planter, quality soil, and plenty of sunlight.
The planter you choose must be able to support this herb. This isn’t your dainty herb which sits on your windowsill. Lemongrass can grow to be as tall as two feet. So you’ll definitely need a larger container that can handle this size plant.
When filling the planter, be sure to use quality, well-draining soil. It should also be high in nitrogen. This herb doesn’t enjoy having wet roots. That means you must plant it in soil which has all the nutrients it needs, can absorb the necessary water, but also have the ability to drain the water away from the plant quickly.
Finally, lemongrass must be grown where it can receive full sun. If you have a sunroom or other bright location in your home, this would be ideal for this herb. It needs approximately eight hours of sunlight per day. Even if you don’t have an area like this in your home, you can supplement lighting with a grow light or even grow the plant under the light full-time.
Keep in mind, for every hour of sunlight you’re supplementing, you’ll need two hours under the grow light. This means, for example, that if you’re growing the plant under a grow light full-time, instead of eight hours of light, the plant will need sixteen hours.
If you can provide these few needs for lemongrass, the plant should be off to a great start inside your home.
How to Plant Lemongrass Indoors
There are multiple ways to grow lemongrass. Which method you choose will depend upon your comfort level.
The first method for growing lemongrass is from seed. Since you’re growing the plant indoors, there’s no need to start the seeds in grow trays. Instead, you can direct sow the seeds into the container the plant will grow in. Fill the planter with quality soil.
Remember, it must be well-draining and high in nitrogen. Sprinkle two to three seeds into the container and lightly cover with soil. The seeds should still be slightly exposed because they need light to germinate. The germination process can take up to two weeks. Once the seeds have sprouted, examine your plants to see which is the strongest. Use scissors to cut the remaining plants away. This method avoids harming the roots of the plant you want to keep.
The other methods for growing lemongrass involve mature plants. One method is to divide a mature plant into multiple smaller plants. If you have a mature outdoor plant, during the cooler parts of the year, dig the plant up. Use a spade to divide the plant all the way through including the roots.
Each division should have roots attached to it for this process to work. Transplant the divisions into containers.
You’ll need to acclimate the new plants if you’re moving them indoors. Begin by placing them in a slightly shaded location for a few days. Move to an even more shaded location, like a carport or covered porch area, for another couple of days.
Finally, move the plant indoors. This acclimation period is to help the plant get used to thriving where the sunlight isn’t as strong as an outdoor growing environment.
If you choose to grow lemongrass from cuttings, you can use a mature plant or lemongrass that you’ve purchased from the produce department.
When using purchased lemongrass, ensure it still has a bulb attached to it. If you’re using a cutting from a mature lemongrass plant, cut the piece an inch above the soil level. Snip the top part of the cutting away to where you only have about four inches of the bottom portion of the cutting.
Place the cutting (or purchased lemongrass) in a glass of water. The bulb should be submerged in the water. Leave the cutting in the water for approximately one month. Once the bulb develops roots, transplant it into well-draining soil. Allow the plant to grow for a couple of months before attempting to harvest. Consider each of these growing methods and determine which you’re most comfortable with when growing lemongrass indoors.
How to Care for Lemongrass Indoors
Remember how I told you, in the beginning, that lemongrass was a super simple plant to grow? I wasn’t kidding. The only thing this herb needs is water, fertilizer, and to be transplanted when the time is right. When watering lemongrass, use the deep watering method.
Place the plant in your sink and spray it with water until it’s draining out of the bottom of the planter. Let the plant remain in the sink as all the water drains from the bottom of the planter. Once the water is finished draining, you can move the plant back to its growing location. Don’t add more water until you test the soil.
Stick your finger into the pot. When the soil is dry to the first knuckle, it’s time to repeat the process.
The next step is to fertilize your lemongrass plant. Apply an all-purpose fertilizer two times per month to ensure the plant has all the nutrients it needs.
Finally, when your lemongrass plant appears root bound, transplant it into a larger pot. You’ll know it’s root bound by tugging on the plant. It will feel stuck.
You can also look at the bottom of the planter. If roots are growing out of the bottom, it needs more room. By following these few steps, your lemongrass plant should have all it needs to thrive under your care while growing inside your home.
Pests and Diseases Which Might Impact Lemongrass Indoors
Not only is lemongrass easy to grow and care for, but it also has few threats. The only disease you must worry about when growing lemongrass is lemongrass rust.
This is a fungal disease which can be fixed by cutting away any damaged parts of the plant. As with most fungal diseases, the best way to keep them at bay is to increase airflow around the plant. You might need to prune the herb to allow more air to flow around it. Also, lessen the amount of watering sessions you’re providing the plant.
If you can decrease the amount of moisture and increase airflow, the disease won’t have an ideal place to form. The only pest which might impact your lemongrass is an aphid. These pests tend to find their way to food sources no matter where they’re located.
Aphids will suck the sap of the foliage of your lemongrass plant. This will weaken your plant. At the first sign of aphids, spray them with an insecticidal soap.
Stay alert to these two issues, and you should be able to stop the threats before they do extreme harm to your plant.
How to Harvest Lemongrass Indoors
When harvesting lemongrass, there’s a specific method you should follow to avoid bringing harm to the plant. First, wait until the foliage of the plant is around twelve inches long. This will allow you to receive a decent harvest but still leave enough of the plant where it can regrow.
Use scissors to harvest from the plant but be sure to leave at least an inch of the plant behind. If you don’t, the plant will die. It’s wise to harvest your lemongrass plant regularly because this helps the plant remain in good health. After you’ve harvested the plant, you can use it fresh per the recipe you’re following, or it can be frozen for later use.
Lemongrass is a wonderful choice for new gardeners or those who are just starting to grow herbs indoors. It doesn’t require a ton of maintenance.
It’s also a gorgeous plant to have in your home. If you’re in the market for an herb that’s delicious, simple, and will help your home seem more inviting, don’t overlook lemongrass.