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Lemongrass

Cymbopogon citratus  • 

Photo: Lemongrass

Photo: Lemongrass

General description

Lemongrass is a perennial Southeast Asian grass that has a lemony aroma and flavor thanks to its high content of essential citral oil. It grows well in humid, warm environments. Historically, it has been used in salads, curries, teas, cleaning materials, perfumes, soaps, creams, and deodorants. South American folk medicine used the grass for treating treating hypertension, inflammation, nervousness, sleep disorders, infection, fevers and gastrointestinal disorders.

Plant requirements

You can grow Lemongrass around the house, preferably in the vicinity and also, as a part of indoor gardening. Being a tropical grass variety, it can adapt in any type of garden soil and potting media.

Maintenance

The care tips for lemongrass herbs are very easy. All you need is to keep the plants in partial shade or full sunlight conditions. Correct watering is another important tip for maintenance of healthy lemongrass plants. Water the garden plants or potted plants regularly and keep the soil moist, but not soggy. If you are residing in a cold region, you will need to protect them from extreme cold temperatures.

SOIL REQUIREMENTS:
Fertile, moist loams with a pH level of 6-7.8

SUN REQUIREMENTS:
Full sun and warmth.

HEIGHT:
Average of 2-3 feet, although it can grow up to 9 ft. in height in tropical regions.

SPACING:
24-36 in. (60-90 cm).

GROWING ZONES:
Grows in Zones 9b-11, and in most tropical areas of the world. Can grow well in-doors.

PLANTING TIME:
Early spring after danger of frost has passed. Best to first plant indoors in a warm, sunny environment and re-plant in late spring.

POLLINATION:
Propagates by dividing the root ball and replanting. Also by seed.

FLOWERING/SEEDING TIME:
This grass rarely flowers, but is considered mature at 4-8 months.

Practical use

Commonly used in Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Thai cooking, the tough, fibrous grass can be bought fresh, frozen (usually minced), or dried and ground into a powder. It can either be finely chopped and integrated into soups and other preparations, or chopped into sticks and bruised and used to flavor dishes while they cook, then removed before serving.

It also makes a nice herb tea -- just add hot water, steep, and serve.

Lemongrass is considered a mild sedative, stomachic, diuretic, anti-parasitical, anti-bacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial agent. It is also a stimulant tonic with the known ability to break down fats and stimulate perspiration. The leaves and oils have been used to treat a variety of conditions, including colds, nervous system imbalances, dyspeptic conditions, generalized stress and exhaustion.

It has also been used as an insect repellent, a treatment for Athlete's foot, headaches, muscle pain, circulation problems, respiratory conditions, sore throat and aids in the tonification of tissues. Recent studies support its use in lowering cholesterol levels. It also has a clear anti-bacterial effect on nematodes, as well an other bacterial infestations. What is more, five of the active constituents in lemongrass have been linked to the that inhibition of blood coagulation.

ESSENTIAL OIL USE:
A soothing, relaxing oil, lemongrass essential oil has been used to treat acne, Athlete's foot, digestive upset, muscle ache, stress and overly oily skin and scabies.

PLANT CHEMICALS:
This grass contains high levels of citral and many other monoterpenoids. These monoterpenoids may be related to the plants sedative, carminiative, antimicrobial and spasmolytic effects.

IS THIS AN EDIBLE PLANT:
Yes

CAUTIONS / CONTRAINDICATIONS:
It should not be used by pregnant and breast-feeding women. Avoid using the oil if you have glaucoma. Children can drink the tea, but not use the oil. Use with care in conditions of prostatic hyperplasia, hypersensitivity of the skin, or in cases of damaged skin.

DRUG INTERACTIONS:
No documented information on interaction, but consult your healthcare provider if you are currently taking medications.

Harvesting

Within 2 months of plantation, or after 60 days, you can start harvesting your lemongrass plants. Separate a part of the clump and cut the plants at the base. If required, trim them to about 8 inch height for conserving nutrients. Once planted, a lemongrass plant grows and bears healthy leaves for many years. You can think of replanting it after every 4-5 years.

HARVESTING:
Harvesting occurs when the plant is 4-8 months old, or when plant is approximately one foot tall. From thereon, lemongrass can be harvested every 3-4 months for approximately 4 years. This is done by cutting the entire stalks and using fresh in teas. Make sure to cut the stalks below the white swollen ends.

DRYING METHODS / YIELD:
Best used fresh. Cut individual stems from white ends, throwing away an discolored parts. Dry in a cool, dry place. Once dried, the stems can be cut into smaller pieces and used in teas.

PLANT YIELD:
One plant can provide an average of 30 inches of usable stalk, or 0.2-0.4% of essential oil.

PRESERVATION / PACKAGING METHODS:
Dried stalks may be stored in an airtight glass container for up to one year.
 


 

Properties

Height
1 - 160 cm
Soil type
Loam
Sunlight
Full sun
PH
Neutral
Moisture
Moist but well-drained
Hardiness
Needs protection