West Indian Lemon Grass

Cymbopogon citratus

Family: Poaceae (poh-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cymbopogon (sim-buh-POH-gon) (Info)
Species: citratus (sit-TRAY-tus) (Info)
Synonym:Andropogon ceriferus
Synonym:Andropogon citratus
Synonym:Andropogon fragrans
Synonym:Andropogon roxburghii
View this plant in a garden



Ornamental Grasses and Bamboo

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:



Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)


Auburn, Alabama

Prattville, Alabama

Goodyear, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Little Rock, Arkansas

Ceres, California

Clovis, California

Fairfield, California

Fontana, California

Lemoore, California

Merced, California

Palm Springs, California

Perris, California

Pleasanton, California

Pomona, California

Sacramento, California

San Francisco, California

San Pedro, California

Santa Barbara, California

Vacaville, California

West Hollywood, California

Bartow, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Crawfordville, Florida

Crestview, Florida

Daytona Beach, Florida

Delray Beach, Florida

Groveland, Florida

Hollywood, Florida

Keystone Heights, Florida

Loxahatchee, Florida

Merritt Island, Florida

Ocala, Florida (2 reports)

Orlando, Florida

Pompano Beach, Florida (2 reports)

Riverview, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Sebring, Florida

Shalimar, Florida

Stuart, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Venice, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Brunswick, Georgia

Decatur, Georgia

Statesboro, Georgia

Honomu, Hawaii

Kamuela, Hawaii

Papaaloa, Hawaii

Ewing, Kentucky

Kenner, Louisiana

Ijamsville, Maryland

Seekonk, Massachusetts

Somerville, Massachusetts

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Saucier, Mississippi

Binghamton, New York

Deposit, New York

Schenectady, New York

Efland, North Carolina

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Summerville, South Carolina

Austin, Texas

Bellaire, Texas

Belton, Texas

Boerne, Texas

Cedar Park, Texas

Conroe, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Houston, Texas (2 reports)

Mont Belvieu, Texas

Montgomery, Texas

Nacogdoches, Texas

Rockport, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Spring, Texas

Spring Branch, Texas

Weslaco, Texas

Buena Vista, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 30, 2013, otter47 from Livermore, CA wrote:

Our garden club maintains a Sensory Garden in Pleasanton, CA where there is a large specimen of lemon grass. it receives full sun in a raised bed in sandy loam and is watered by a drip irrigation system so drainage is excellent. It has been there many years and has experienced temperature drops into the mid-20s during winter. It browns off in winter, but we cut it back at the end of winter and then it sends up lots of new growth. At that time, we have taken divisions from the mother plant, but they are slow to develop into new plants.


On May 27, 2013, 53773 from Luganville
Vanuatu wrote:

We grow this in Vanuatu, S. Pacific, and it loves the volcanic soil and hot, humid climate. We pick it every day for tea (said to make the smell of your skin unpleasant to mosquitoes), and it just grows on, happily and beautifully.


On May 27, 2013, losche from Buena Vista, VA wrote:

this plant grows well in Lexington, VA


On Sep 5, 2010, LemongrassLover from Spring, TX wrote:

I'm in z.9a, Spring, TX. I grow this plant for 3 purposes: cooking Asian food, decorating my gardens and repelling snakes. Lemongrass can be used in soups, stews, or used as seasoning for pork, beef, chicken and seafood. I grow it at elbow corners as a focal point in my herb and flower gardens. It can grow easily in pots. Snakes don't like its citrus smell from the leaves. Its leaves or the tips can turn brown in extreme heat in summer. After winter, cut it down, it will grow back. It requires very little care.


On Jun 23, 2009, sliceTall from Crawfordville, FL wrote:

i live in zone 8a and have never seen it go to seed. does it take tropical temps.?mine freezes back every year so in early spring i burn it back and it comes back great!


On Sep 27, 2008, Killgriff07 from Huntington Beach, CA wrote:

Very easy to grow from seed. I planted the seeds in a seed tray with bottom heat, and high humidity. I had sprouts the next day!


On Sep 15, 2008, groundskeeper57 from Daytona Beach, FL wrote:

If you like decorative grasses, this is the plant to grow! I llive in Central Florida and bought one small plant three years ago. Not only did the original plant get large and beautiful, it seeded freely and I have lots of babies that I give away or move to other areas. I have a large yard, and a row of these makes a nice divider and wind break. The seed stalks look like Pampas grass stalks on a diet. It is drought tough, but our heavy rains don't bother it either.


On Sep 15, 2008, Cyn from Seekonk, MA wrote:

I'm in MA, and the plant grows beautifully throughout the summer. I have tried wintering it over for three years now (in the house) and it dies. I suggest that you pick all the stalks at the end of the summer, cut them however you wish to use them, and freeze the pieces. This has worked well for me. I'm am giving up on the wintering over. I'll just buy a new plant every year. Our nurseries have them in the Herb section and a tiny $3.00 plant will grow to 30" tall by fall.


On Sep 15, 2008, cyra from Central Valley, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

I grew lemongrass from seed purchased from Richter's Herbs, one year; - it must've been very fresh seed, almost all of it sprouted, so I had waay too many plantlets. I gave most away, the rest I put in a large patio pot with my (Greek) Laurel tree, since they have similar watering requirements, (light, intermittent) . It thrived on benign neglect; and I still had plenty of blades to dry plus clumps to give to friends later, when I thinned it out. Don't know about the notation stating lemongrass doesn't grow true to seed, or is sterile; the lemongrass seed I grew, did beautifully!). I started it in a plastic sandwich bag of potting soil, it took about a week for seedlings to appear.


On Sep 15, 2008, shesh62 from Crestview, FL wrote:

I garden in the Florida Panhandle (8a) about 15 miles north of Jenny G. in Shalimar. Our temperatures are often 20 colder in the winter.

I have 3 lemon grass plants in the soil planted 3 years ago. They die back to a beautiful rustling brown in the winter. As soon as I know temperatures are past the point of freezing, the entire plant (green sprouts in the center too) gets a haircut to 6", I've never fertilized my plants and doubt I ever will.

Shari F.


On Jun 29, 2008, straea from Somerville, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is just about the easiest tropical plant to grow in a pot in summer here. With little care beyond watering it if there hasn't been recent rain, I have had them attain heights of 5 ft. or more in a single season, even when in partial shade. I have had mixed results overwintering them indoors and continue to experiment with the best way to do that here; I think this winter I will try a humidity tray and see if that helps.


On May 26, 2008, russelltdog from Kenner, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Wonderful for Southeast Asian cooking and for the garden. Easy to grow-is not very fussy. Give sun, water, and fertilize every once in a while, and it will grow well. Easy to start: just go to local oriental market's vegetable section and buy a bundle of lemongrass stalks (get the freshly cut ones-they are green and plump). Cut the stalks with the white swollen end down so that they are about 12" - Discard the upper cut portions or use in cooking. Place the cut lower sections in a glass of water and let stems form roots. In glass of water, roots are clearly visible in 7-10 days.When adequate roots are formed, then plant rooted stems in potting soil and place in diffuse sunlight. Keep moist but not wet. Can also pot the trimmed lower portions in potting soil and skip rooting in water. Ste... read more


On Jul 14, 2006, kwesimango from Accra
Ghana wrote:

These are supposed to be propagated by dividing the rootball but if you start from scratch there is another method. Just buy some lemon grass stems from the supermarket and put them bottom down in a glass of water. If you're lucky they will develop roots after a few weeks time.


On Jun 23, 2005, manyhats from Palm Springs, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This makes a great tea, hot or cold. better yet, is a combination of freshly grated ginger root and mint leaves with slices of lemmon grass from the white-going into the green part of the plant, as in Thai soup.


On Nov 3, 2004, JenniferG from Shalimar, FL (Zone 8a) wrote:

This is the second season I've had this plant. Last year it was in a container and it grew well. I covered it when winter brought temps below 32. It's planted in the garden now and has done great. Hurricane Ivan pummeled it, we cut it down, but it grew right back.


On Aug 1, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

So far, I only have a small plant at this time. I have had some in the past that grew into huge clumps. Wonderful in South East Asian dishes.


On Jul 31, 2004, sethy from Hana, HI wrote:

Out on Maui, it works wonderfully for an edging plant, to keep the grass from invading an area. We prefer it to the more dense and quickly growing vetiver grass, because it is temporary and can be removed easily if the edge is expanded. Valuable for permaculture and a great sooting tea from the leaves. In Costa Rica they use the root decoction of "sacate limon" for sore throats.


On Feb 15, 2004, Maxz wrote:

I've been growing Lemongrass for years and found it refreshing as iced tea in the summer and soothing and comforting in the winter as hot tea. It's medicinal properties are well documented. Any garden is incomplete without this herb.


On Aug 2, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I regularly use lemon grass in cooking. I have to grow it in a large pot and keep it in a cool greenhouse over winter here in Northcentral Florida, zone 8b, but I go to all that trouble because the herb imparts such a wonderful flavor to oriental soups and fish. Carol Saville's excellent book "Exotic Herbs" devotes three whole pages to this herb, and includes a recipe for "Lemon Grass and Vietnamese Balm Cooler."

I grew this plant in the ground in St. Petersburg for many years, zone 9b, and the small plant I purchased this Spring and potted up in rich potting soil is now close to three feet tall despite constant "pruning" for cooking.


On Jun 9, 2002, AustinBarbie from Harker Heights, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I absolutely love my lemongrass. I planted two plants about eight months ago, and they were about 3 strands of grass each. Now, they are huge, mature, beautiful plants with a graceful, swaying drooping habit as it gets long. Propagate by division. Needs full sun to light shade, and is not frost tolerant. I live in a hot semi-arid climate that does not freeze.


On Aug 14, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

This grass grows in dense clumps that can grow to 6 feet in height to about 4 feet in width. The strap-like leaves are 1/2 to 1 inch wide, about 3 feet long, and have gracefully drooping tips. The leaves are bright yellow-green and release a lemon aroma when crushed.