Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Lemongrass is cultivated around the world for a variety of reasons. It's mainly grown for its oils, which have a number of uses including for vitamin A, perfumes, insect spray, cosmetics, perfumes and food and drink. Lemongrass is also enjoyed as a tea throughout the world.
The lemongrass stalk is too tough to eat on its own so has to be finely crushed or chopped.
It is essential in many Asian cuisines, especially Thai dishes, giving them a subtle citrus flavour.
Lemongrass has a refreshing lemon-lime taste with a tinge of mint and ginger.
Fresh lemongrass has a delicate, floral rose-like fragrance mixed with a fresh and grassy aroma.
Lemongrass is a key ingredient in Asian cuisine, particularly Thai, at home in curries, stir fries and noodles. It pairs beautifully with fish, chicken and coriander.
Propagation is by division of the bulbous base with roots. After pulling apart sections cut the leaves off and then plant in the garden or a pot. These cut leaves are good for using as mulch. It is best to plant in spring, summer or early autumn, if propagated in winter the success rate can be quite low. Plant each 30cm apart.
Using thick mulch around the plant means it will need very little attention once it has been established.
It is best to plant lemongrass in well-drained soil with full or partial sun. In cold climates, lemongrass can be planted in a pot to bring inside in harsher weather. In very low temperatures it can help to spray the leaves of lemongrass with warm water. Lemongrass needs a minimum night temperature of 8 degrees.
Lemongrass is often used as a barrier plant to divide grass from the garden bed and in Laos it is very thickly planted with the idea of keeping snakes away from the house.
Indigenous Australians used lemongrass leaves to make a drink and applied it to sore eyes, cuts and skin conditions as a wash.
Where lemongrass is native it is made into a tea called ‘fever tea’ that is used to treat diarrhoea, stomach cramps and headaches. The oil of lemongrass is applied to treat ringworm in India. Studies have shown that lemongrass kills multiple types of bacteria and fungi and has deodorant properties. The lemongrass contains five constituents that inhibit blood coagulation.
Essential oils in lemongrass help strengthen blood vessels and decrease the chance of varicose veins.
Facts about Lemongrass
You can use lemongrass as a steam by adding lemongrass leaves to boiling water. This will cause the pores to open up and clear out pimples and blackheads,
Lemongrass is used in aromatherapy as a mood lifter.
Will lemongrass repel mosquitos?
Lemongrass contains citronella and gives a strong citrus odour that mosquitos do not like. Other oils that have a similar effect are peppermint, eucalyptus and cloves. Planting lemongrass near doors and entrance ways may help repel the pesky insects.
How should lemongrass be prepared?
Lemongrass is too tough to eat without working it prior. It can be minced or finely sliced. To mince, smash with the back of a knife.