Lemongrass

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Cymbopogon spp.

 

 

 

History

A tall grassy perennial forming clumps. Several species are used for flavourings, but the most common are Cymbopogon flexuosus from India, and Cymbopogon citratus from Sri Lanka. Citratus is the most common one grown in NZ.

Lemongrass is very popular in Asian dishes and often teamed with other Asian herbs such as ginger, galangal, chilli, lime, and coriander. It also makes a lovely fragrant tea.

Growing

Lemon grass is native to tropical and subtropical climates but can be grown relatively easily in our cooler temperate conditions if given protection. Good drainage is essential, as well as full sun or light shade. Plants need protection from frosts but will cope well with wind. They can be easily grown in containers.

Grow easily from seed but require heat for germination (20-25c). Barely cover the fine seed, and prick out into pots till ready to plant out (after frosts) Lemongrass is also easily divided. You could try buying stems for cooking and stand in a glass of water till roots develop…pot up till growing strongly before planting out.

Wait till plants are well established before harvesting. Harvest by pulling away side shoots/ leaves gently from the clump, with a small knife or trowel.

Maintenance

Feeding:
Regular applications of compost, and straw mulch. keep watered regularly through the growing season but take care not to over water in winter which could cause root rots.

Uses

The base of the stems are crushed and finely sliced to add to Asian recipes.

Add 2 or 3 chopped leaves to chicken stuffing for a tang

Lemongrass tea made from the blades reputed to help liver

1-2 chopped leaves in a cup of boiling water fort 5-10 minutes covered to trap steam

As a hair rinse adds shine

Aroma of essential oil repels insects

Relaxing in the bath