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Lemon Grass: From the Old World, with Love

by Kelly Richardson, All About Lawns Columnist

Also known as barbed wire grass, silky heads, citronella grass, or fever grass, this versatile herb is the perfect ingredient for teas, beverages, herbal medicines, and Eastern-inspired cuisines. And the best part is -- you can grow it right in your own backyard.

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Lemon Grass 101

Cymbopogon. Tough to pronounce, but a pleasure to grow. Lemon grass describes about 55 species of tall perennial grasses found in the warm temperate and tropical regions of Asia and India. Lemon grass plants grow in dense clumps, reaching 6 feet in height and about 4 feet in width, with strapping leaves about 1 inch wide and 3 feet long.

The uses of lemon grass are well documented. It releases aromatic oil that is a common additive in perfumes, flavorings, and herbal medicines. In the kitchen, lemon grass is suitable for teas, soups, curries, poultry, fish, and seafood. While the stalk itself is too hard to eat (outside of drying and powdering), the soft inner portion gives the plant its unique properties.

How Does Your Lemon Grass Grow?

With respect to landscaping, lemon grass makes the perfect bed or garden border grass. Contact with the leaves produces a calming scent that can be easily identified. Lemon grass grows best in fertile loam, but will tolerate most types of soils with proper care. Warm sunshine and frequent moisture are the ideal conditions. Spread lemon grass by dividing clumps and planting in spring or summer.

Lemon grass leaves have sharp edges that can cause razor cuts -- similar to those caused by corn stalks. As a precaution, do not plant lemon grass along walkways where the leaves can reach and slice exposed skin.

About the Author
Kelly Richardson has obsessive compulsive lawn disorder and is afflicted with the need to share his knowledge with the world. Kelly writes lawn columns for a variety of home and garden magazines and e-zines.

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