Lemon Grass [ Cymbopogon citratus ]
Originally native to grasslands in Southeast Asia, lemon grass is now cultivated in many tropical regions, including Guatemala, the West Indies (Antilles and Caribbean area), and the Philippines. It is used as a culinary herb and in distillation for its essential oil. The herb is a popular digestive aid in Asia.
Lemon grass requires warm temperatures and is not frost hardy, often dying very quickly if temperatures drop below 50 F. Grow lemon grass in the summer, and bring the plants indoors in late September. Lemon grass must have moist, fertile soil and full sun. Mist the leaves often in winter as it likes humid conditions.
Parts used are the leaves and stems. Propagate by root division in late spring. You can also grow lemon grass from seed. Check online specialty stores that sell the seeds or rooted cuttings.
Growth habit: under ideal conditions, lemon grass reaches an impressive height of 3 feet. Lemon grass grows quickly, forming clumps from the base of the plant. It is considered a perennial in Florida and California, but not in areas that have frost or nighttime temperatures below freezing. Lemon grass can be grown in heated green houses. A greenhouse is an ideal place to start cuttings or seeds in late March (for the colder zones).
Many Asian supermarkets sell lemon grass as a culinary herb. The leaves and stems may be chopped and made into teas and used to flavor drinks, broth and clear soups. A staple in Asian cooking, lemon grass has a delicious and delicate flavor. Stir fry the tender shoots with bean sprouts, water chestnuts and thin slices of fresh ginger.
Blessed be sweet ones.
~ Meadow Walker