Overview: Lemon grass is a tender perennial herb, which is native to India and Sri Lanka. Lemon grass, with its lemony flavor and aroma, is used extensively in Asian-style cooking. Both the large, grassy leaves and the bulbous leaf base can be added to recipes. The commercially produced essential oil is used as both a food flavoring and a cosmetic ingredient.
Latin Name: Cymbopogon citratus.
Common Name: Lemon Grass.
Mature Size: Mature plants can grow up to 5 feet tall by 3 feet wide.
Growing Tips: Give this plant plenty of room to grow. Lemon grass can be over wintered in areas where the temperature doesn’t go below 45 degrees. For other areas, try growing a small clump of lemon grass in a large container. The container can be brought indoors during the colder months.
Starting New Plants: Lemon grass can also be started from seed. However, container-grown plants will rarely grow large enough to produce flowers. Fresh lemon grass stalks, purchased from the grocery store, can be used to start new plants. Simply peel off the outer leaves of a few stalks and place them in a glass of water. Place the glass in a sunny location, such as a windowsill, and change the water every few days. The stalks will start to produce roots in a few weeks, at which point they can be planted in a container or directly in the ground.
Maintenance Tips: In the early spring, cut back the leaves of this plant to just a few inches above the ground. Lemon grass that is grown outdoors should be divided every year. Dig up and divide the plant into smaller clumps which can then be replanted in other parts of the garden or used for additional container plantings.
Parts Used: The fresh leaves can be brewed into a refreshing tea while the dried leaves make a wonderful addition to potpourri blends. The lower, bulbous portion of the leaf stalk are either thinly sliced or crushed before being added to culinary creations. The crushed stalk needs to be removed and discarded prior to serving the meal.
Storage: Lemon grass leaves are best used fresh, as they lose most of their flavor and aroma when dried. However, the stalks can be processed for long term storage in either the refrigerator or freezer. To store in the refrigerator, for up to 3 weeks, simply place the stalks into a plastic bag. Or place the plastic bag full of lemon grass stalks in the freezer for up to 6 months.