Aromatically scented and flexible in use – lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) has also found its way into German gardens for several years. The lush green stalks, whose scent is reminiscent of lemons, are quite wild and can be easily cultivated even by beginners. However, one should keep in mind that the plant, which originally comes from Asia and is used to tropical and subtropical climates, cannot overwinter outdoors in domestic gardens. However, with optimal care and appropriate protection, lemongrass thrives and can be used for numerous dishes or drinks after harvesting.

location and soil

Lemongrass is either grown in tubs or cultivated outdoors. In any case, the plant prefers a warm location, ideally in a sheltered area in the garden. Alternatively, however, there are also sunny and light-flooded areas on the balcony or terrace or a sufficiently lit area on the windowsill. In addition, a fairly dry ambient air is advantageous so that the plant can thrive optimally. As a perennial plant that is not hardy in Central European temperatures, lemongrass can be cultivated outdoors during the summer months and kept indoors from autumn to spring. In addition to an optimal location, the soil conditions also play a role in enabling the lemongrass to thrive optimally.

  • fumes
  • well ventilated
  • profound
  • fresh to moist

In addition, lemongrass thrives particularly well in very fertile soil.

Lemongrass – care

One of the main aspects of care is optimal watering of the lemongrass. Especially during the summer months, the grass is moisturized twice to three times a week, avoiding standing water and very large waterings; these can lead to root rot. During the winter months, the plant requires less moisture overall. During this period, watering can be done once a week; Depending on the soil moisture, a single watering every 14 days can be sufficient.

Fertilization takes place exclusively during the main growth phase of the Cymbopogon citratus, which extends from April to September. During this time, an organic fertilizer is given once a month, preferably in liquid form. Alternatively, there is also a supply of pellets, which are put on the ground both in spring and in summer. If you want to fertilize naturally, you can also use nettle manure or coffee grounds, which can be quickly and easily mixed with a little water. Horn shavings, which are worked into the substrate and provide the lemongrass with important nutrients, present themselves as a classic long-term fertilizer on a natural basis. During the cold season, the lemongrass does not need any additional fertilizer.

Tip: Regular fertilization ensures better branching of the lemongrass.

Every now and then the plant needs a new pot or bucket. Spring is the best time to transplant the crop; then the lemongrass can be carefully removed from the pot and placed deep into the substrate of the new pot together with the tuber and roots. Thorough watering is then carried out.

Caring for lemongrass includes regular pruning and harvesting the leaves, which are used for further processing. However, thinning should also take place if the use of the plant parts is not desired. For example, yellowing leaves left on the plant can damage the crop and result in unnecessary leaching of the crop that can affect the overall structure. When cutting the lemongrass, it is important to ensure that the bulbs are not touched. These are quite sensitive. There is no pruning during the winter months; only a slight thinning is then possible from time to time.


Lemongrass is an evergreen plant, but is not hardy in central European latitudes. You must therefore take certain precautions for the cold season. Already at the beginning of autumn the grass is transplanted into a pot. In this case, you can also depend on the temperature. As soon as the thermometer shows 5-10°C, you have to bring the plant indoors. The following locations are suitable for cultivation during the cold season:

  • conservatory
  • Glasshouse
  • a sunny spot on the windowsill

Overall, you should pay attention to sufficient brightness even during the cold season. In this context, it has proven useful to use additional lights to create artificial brightness. However, this measure is usually only necessary in persistently cloudy weather.

propagation and cultivation

There are different ways to propagate lemongrass:

  • division of the root
  • Rooting of purchased lemongrass
  • Propagation via seeds

The easiest way to propagate the plant is to divide the grass. For this purpose, a defined area is cut off with the digging fork around the root ball of the plant that is to be divided. The plant and the root ball are then lifted out of the ground, taking care not to damage the sensitive root parts. The excavated material is then broken up into two or more sections, with each section containing sufficient root material. The separation always takes place in the younger growth area. The removed sections are best replanted directly, pressing the soil down well and then ensuring adequate watering.

The cultivation of lemongrass is also very easy to do by rooting plants that are bought in the supermarket. Shoots that still show a small stalk in the area below the base of the leaves are particularly suitable for this. For cultivation, the plant is placed in a glass filled with fresh tap water. Now the plant is left in a sunny place on the windowsill until a sufficient root system has formed. Then you can plant the plant in a pot filled with soil.

Tip: Since not all shoots always grow, it has proven useful to plant several shoots at the same time to increase the chance of success.

Propagation via seeds

This form of propagation is carried out between the end of January and the beginning of March. But it is also possible to keep it in a bucket. The seed is scattered on special seed soil. The seeds are then covered with a thin layer of compost. The plants are watered well. Germination can now take place, which begins after 21 to 40 days, as long as the temperature is always between 20 and 25°C. Cultivation is particularly successful if the planter is covered with a plastic hood, for example a plastic bag, during germination. After successful germination, repotting into a larger vessel is a good idea.

If you want to cultivate the grass outdoors, you should consider that the plant can reach a total height of up to two meters and therefore choose a spacious location. The lemongrass can then gradually get used to outdoor conditions. However, before the onset of winter, you have to bring the plant back inside. Basically, when cultivating lemongrass, you should always ensure that the freshly rooted young plant is first cultivated in a small pot until the plant is strong enough to move to another location.

Fight fungus gnats

The fungus gnat presents itself as a classic pest of lemongrass. The little mosquitoes that sometimes fly up when watering do not pose any danger to the plant themselves; however, the larvae can cause some damage. These penetrate the interior of the lemongrass through small injuries to the plant or the roots. The eggs are also laid in the moist soil. Then the following image appears:

  • feeding damage
  • growth damage
  • cripples

While older plants can cope with the effects of fungus gnats quite well without causing serious consequential damage, young plants are all the more serious. Therefore, various preventive measures should be taken. Young plants should generally not be kept too moist. Watering should also be from below, because mosquitoes can only multiply in a damp environment. Attaching yellow boards has also proven to be particularly effective; if the lemongrass is in flower pots, a layer of sand applied specifically to the soil also has an effect; this prevents the mosquitoes from laying their eggs and thus effectively stops their reproduction.

However, lemongrass itself can also be used as an effective remedy against pests, for example against cabbage worms. Pour five liters of boiling water over 150g of fresh, roughly chopped lemongrass, filter after ten minutes and cool slightly. The affected plant is then sprayed with the brew.

Use of Lemongrass

Only the lower part of the plant is used for the preparation of food because the upper part is too heavily interspersed with fibers. The concentration of the essential oils is strongest at the onion-like thickening at the base of the stalks. The taste of lemongrass is reminiscent of lemon balm, which is why it is used in meat or fish dishes; the shoots and fresh leaves are also suitable as a spice for salads and sauces. The fresh grass is usually discarded after cooking and not eaten. But grilled lemongrass also tastes good.

Lemongrass can also be used pharmaceutically and medicinally; the essential oil has a refreshing and stimulating effect, as well as against gastrointestinal complaints, the tea infusion is said to have antiperspirant and diuretic properties and the massage oil with lemongrass relieves rheumatic complaints and lumbago.

Lemongrass is now one of the most popular spices in domestic gardens, as tasty Asian dishes can be prepared with the help of the stalks. In addition, the plant can be easily cultivated by beginners with little effort. Optimally cared for and properly overwintered, hobby gardeners can use the aromatic plant for several years.

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