Lemon grass is a herbal shrub and a member of the true grass family, it is related to sugar cane and corn. It origins in south India and South East Asia and grows as a perennial in areas with no frost. Lemongrass grows thick stems up to 2 cm in diameter and up to 1 meter high. All parts of the plant have a subtle lemon scent without showing any tartness. The leaves and stems can be dried or used fresh. The green top leaves can be used as a herbal tea, the lower thick part (40 cm) is used for cooking. Citronella oil is made out of lemon grass.
How to grow:
To get best results, lemon grass is best grown from lemon grass stems. Lemon grass is best planted in mid Spring.
Plant the bottom 5 cm of a fresh lemon grass stem, that hasn’t been frozen, into a well drained bed enriched with compost. Space 10 cm apart and leave 2 cm of the stem out of the ground. Keep well watered until new leaves form.
Lemon grass loves a sunny spot and needs regular water. No need to fertilise. During Summer the plants will fill the whole bed and can be harvested as needed. Leave enough plants in the bed until the end of Winter to allow for a new planting in Spring.
Growing in the neighbourhood:
Likes to grow with coriander, basil, thyme, mint, lemon verbena and marigold
Pests and other problems and how we deal with them:
Up to now we didn’t have any pest related problems
Best grown from stems.
How to harvest and use:
The plants likes to be cut back to encourage growth. When thicker stems are developing thin them out by harvesting as needed.
Use the green leaves as a herbal tea, they can be dried and stored in a dry air tight container.
The stem is best used fresh and cut into very fine dice to impart a lemon scent and flavour to curries, stir fries and soups. Stems can also be used as skewers for barbecued meats. Bruised stems infusing their scent in water can be used to steam fish and seafood.
Citronella oil is derived from lemongrass. It has insect repellent and antifungal properties and is supposed to have a calming effect in aromatherapy. The scent is deemed to be effective in calming barking dogs.