Cymbopogon is a genus of frost tender perennial, occasionally annual, aromatic grasses, native to Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand
Cymbopogon flexuosus. more famously known as Lemon Grass is widely used as a herb in Asian and Caribbean cooking. It has a citrus flavour and can be dried and powdered, or used fresh.
The stalk itself is too hard to be eaten except for the soft inner part. However, it can be finely sliced and added to recipes. It may also be bruised and added whole as this releases the aromatic oils from the juice sacs in the stalk. The main constituent of lemongrass oil is citral, which makes up around 80% of the total.
Lemon grass is commonly used in teas, soups, and curries and is also suitable for poultry, fish, and seafood. It is often used as a tea in African and Latino-American countries.
Cymbopogon flexuosus is a very attractive plant that looks great in a pot or in-ground as an accent plant or in multiples as a border. It is essentially an ornamental grass and can be grown and used as such.
Sow in Spring, from January onwards
Lemon grass can be difficult to germinate; however, just a few plants achieved from your packet of seed should more than satisfy your needs.
Sow the seed from late January in a 7.5cm (3in) pot, on the surface of the compost, cover with a fine sprinkling of vermiculite or free draining compost.
The compost should be moist, but definitely not wet. Wet compost (which can even be the case straight from the bag) will be cold and reduces the oxygen that the seeds need to germinate. It may even stop the seeds germinating at all! If the compost is too dry this will also cause problems. If this is the case, sprinkle a small amount of warm, clean tap water over the compost and leave it to soak in thoroughly.
Check the compost for dryness regularly, add a little clean water from below, being careful not to over water.
The soil temperature is critical for good germination. Place the pot inside a clean, clear plastic bag and seal with an elastic band. This will help hold in the humidity and heat required. It has to be a steady 20°C-22°C (70°F-72°F). This is about the temperature of a cool, bright windowsill. The temperature must not fluctuate as this can cause poor or failed germination. Hot soil temperatures may cause the seed to become dormant, so use a soil thermometer to keep an eye on it and move the pot to a cooler location if the soil does get too hot. Seed will germinate in 21 to 40 days.
When the seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them carefully into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Grow on for a few weeks in a cool, frost free, well lit place, avoiding direct sun light. Gradually acclimatise them to outside conditions by placing them in a sheltered place during the day and bring them back inside at night. Watch out for cold winds as well as pets, birds, mice etc.
After all risk of frost has passed they can planted into their final position. This should be a sheltered spot in full sun and the soil should be moist but not waterlogged. The plants can be happily gown in containers, plant into a 25-30cm (10-12in) pot and keep in the greenhouse, conservatory or in the summer out on the patio. During the summer keep well watered and feed occasionally with a general purpose liquid feed.
Lemongrass is native to Asia and is considered a tropical plant. As such, it should be located in full sun and grown in fertile and moist (but not constantly wet) soil. Ideal temperatures from 65- 100 degrees with 40- 100% humidity
The plants are frost tender so, if grown outside, the plants must be lifted and potted up in early autumn, before the first frost. Keep the plants through the winter in a greenhouse or conservatory with a minimum temperature of 7°C (45°F). The plant may be propagated by splitting in early spring.
The first harvest is taken about 90 days after planting and subsequent harvests at intervals of 40-50 days. To harvest lemon grass, cut the stems at ground level and use fresh in Thai and Vietnamese cooking.
The leaves can be used as an infusion as tea. It is said to increase perspiration and relieve spasms and be effective against many fungal and bacterial infections.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 200 Seeds Common Name Lemon Grass, Cochin Grass or Malabar Grass Family Poaceae Genus Cymbopogon Species citratus Synonym Andropogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon flexuosus Hardiness Tender Perennial Height 1.2 to 1.8 m (4-6ft). Spread 60-90 cm (2-3ft) Germination 21-40 days Time to Harvest 90 days. Notes Herb, Vegetable