Lemongrass is an incredible herb used in many recipes, but it can be tough to find in stores. Some find the flavor a little overpowering, especially if they’re not experienced using it.
However, this plant is suitable for far more than just cooking. Lemongrass companion plants are one of their best uses. But what is companion planting, and why is lemongrass so great for this old gardening trick?
Lemongrass Companion Plants
Let’s talk not only about why the lemongrass plant is a good companion plant but talk about some different plants that work well with it. But first, let’s learn about the art of companion planting itself.
What Is Companion Planting?
Alternately known as complimentary gardening, this is one of the best-kept agricultural secrets out there – simply because nobody ever thinks to ask about it.
Mother Nature loves balance, so she gave some plants special properties to improve other species around them. Some species have an innate ability to attract pollinators or beneficial insects.
They often promise a bountiful feast of nectar yet produce none. However, the pollinators, having been attracted to the plant, then notice the many other plants nearby that actually do have nectar and might have gone unnoticed otherwise.
Another feature of many plants, such as alliums, marigolds, and several common kitchen herbs, is a strong scent that humans might not notice but that pests hate.
These plants chase away all sorts of pests, from aphids and ants to deer and rabbits. When surrounded by these repellent plants, unwanted garden guests often ignore even the tastiest snacks.
Finally, some plants produce chemicals that work their way into the soil. For example, black walnut releases a chemical that will kill many plants, yet some species are immune.
This allows compatible plants to thrive without the risk of being choked out by weeds.
Other plants, such as certain alliums, release chemicals that can actually boost the growth of certain species or improve the flavor of some production plants.
Most importantly, companion planting uses plants with different root depths and similar needs to ensure far more dense garden spaces than normally possible.
This pinnacle was featured in an old Mother Earth News Almanac, which explained how to grow a loaf of bread in one square acre without ever needing to weed or use pesticides.
Literally, every plant added something to the mix.
Benefits Of Lemongrass
So now that we’ve discussed companion planting, what are the beneficial qualities of lemongrass itself?
Lemongrass has a strong citrus flavor and scent (hence the name) that insect pests absolutely hate.
It also contains citral and geranyl acetate, insect-repelling compounds that can easily compete with many commercial repellents.
Not only can lemongrass repel many common plant pests, such as aphids and mealybugs, and cause ants to give it a wide berth (it overwhelms the smell of their chemical trails), but it can also chase off fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.
The Downside Of Lemongrass
It should be noted that lemongrass is one of the many plants that are toxic to pets.
Dogs can become ill after consuming lemongrass and severely ill if they consume concentrated lemongrass oil.
Even worse, lemongrass consumption can prove fatal for cats.
Please keep this in mind when planting a garden to which your pets have easy access.
Another thing to keep in mind is that lemongrass isn’t immune to mites.
This means it can easily become infested with spider mites if exposed. Still, it also means you can introduce predatory mites into your garden using lemongrass without chasing them off.
Five Great Companions For Lemongrass
There are a large number of plants that will benefit from having lemongrass nearby.
Some growers like to stick to other herbs and spices, while others blend it with plants prone to infestation to reduce the need for pesticides.
Here are a few edible plants that tend to work especially well with lemongrass:
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
Also known as coneflowers, the 10 species of echinacea add a lot of beauty to your garden while also being a popular herb for teas.
The purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) makes for an especially striking accent to lemongrass’s bright leaves.
More importantly, two species are currently endangered, so growing them with lemongrass gives you a beautiful display and saves nature!
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia Citrodora)
This is another culinary herb that gives off a wonderful citrus smell.
When planted with lemongrass, the two become a solid barrier against mosquitoes while filling your garden or patio with that wonderful lemon scent.
Marigolds (Tagetes spp.)
Marigolds are amazing companion plants and are often considered the perfect beginner plant.
They can repel many common pests while attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects – including predator species such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps.
When paired with lemongrass, you won’t have to fear spider mites attacking the lemongrass, and your entire garden will be even more protected and beautiful.
Mint (Mentha spp.)
Mint has a lot of wonderful qualities:
- They’re attractive.
- You can chew the leaves or use them for flavoring.
- They repel all sorts of pests.
Peppermint and spearmint are the most commonly grown, and if you plant different species close together, you’ll often end up with hybrids the following year.
When paired with lemongrass, you can make your garden almost impenetrable for common pests while giving yourself some excellent tea plants that taste great when steeped together.
Thyme (Thymus spp.)
Not all members of this genus are used in the kitchen, but all of them are excellent companions for lemongrass.
These wiry, usually evergreen plants bear tiny flowers, creating a lovely display paired with the spikier, lighter-leaf lemongrass.
Even more critical, thyme has similar pest-repelling properties and often has its own pleasant scent, making the garden even more wonderful to visit.
Other Great Lemongrass Companions
We could go on for days about the many plants that work well with lemongrass, especially flowers. Basically, if a flowering plant has similar care needs, it will benefit from being near lemongrass.
In the meantime, we leave you with a list of plants you might be growing in an herb or produce in a garden highly compatible with lemongrass.
- Bee Balm
- Goji Berries
- St. John’s Wort
- Sweet Pepper