Cymbopogon citratus

Cymbopogon citratus

Cymbopogon citratus or Lemon Grass is a herbaceous plant, part of the Gramineae or true grasses.

It is mainly used in Asian cuisine for its lemony taste (contains citronellol).

Not hardy, it is grown in the tropics all over the world. In temperate zones it can easily be grown in pots, outdoors during summer and indoors in winter.

Description:

This grass grows with a clump of long linear leaves, up to 1-2 m long and 2 cm wide. They are smooth and hairless, white on top and green underneath.

The inflorescence is a loose drooping panicle, about 60 cm long, red or russet. Pedicels are tinged with purple.

Uses:

  • Culinary: drinks, tea and meals
  • Will perfume the room when grown in pot
  • Insect repellent (ideal for mosquitoes)
  • Medicinal
  • Perfumery

Nomenclature:

Common names:

Citronella, citronella grass, lemongrass, oil grass, West Indian lemon grass

Synonyms:

Andropogon chrysocomus, Andropogon citratus, Andropogon furcatus, Andropogon gerardii var. chrysocomus, Andropogon provincialis, Cymbopogon citratus

Etymology:

Cymbopogon: derived from the Greek words pogon (beard) and kymbe (boat), with respect to the shape of the flower
Citratus: derived from the Latin citrus (citron)

Origin:

Indonesia

Habitat:

Tropical grassland



Hardiness:

USDA zone 10-11, -1 °C

Lemon grass

Lemon grass

Care:

Exposure:

Sun

Soil:

Rich soil, well drained

Water:

Abundant watering from May to October, may even stay in water, sparsely in winter.

Fertilizer:

Fertilizer 1:1:1, monthly during summer, none in the winter.

Temperature:

Minimum 10 °C if you want to keep the plant. Roots are hardy and growth will resume next spring.

Grown in pot, it can be grown outdoors in summer and indoors in winter, in a cool or even warm room. When left in the garden, it will grow as an annual: the leaves die when it freezes but new leaves will sprout in spring.

Harvest:

The leaves can be harvested all year. The bulbs can be harvested during the growth period, a few weeks before the cold sets in. Do not cut too close to the roots so that the plant can resume growth.

Propagation:

By division of the clumps in spring

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