Prized for its intense citrus-like scent and flavor, lemongrass has many uses, from herbal teas to insect repellents. It adds texture to gardens as well, and is a fast grower. Plant it close to walkways so you can grab a leaf as you walk by and rub it between your fingers to enjoy its refreshing lemony aroma.
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While lemongrass is not particularly colorful, it can act as a wonderful companion plant in garden design. With its vibrant green foliage and grassy texture, it adds interest to a garden and helps break up coarse textures. In an herb garden setting, use the tall grass habit to visually break up lower-growing herbs. It can also be used as a fast-growing annual grass in containers and garden beds.
Lemongrass Care Must-Knows
This easy-to-grow plant has few demands when it comes to growing it. Lemongrass grows best in well-drained soils with consistent and even moisture, but can tolerate a little drought every now and then.
Grow your lemongrass in full sun, which will encourage more intense flavor as well as a fuller, more lush plant. In part shade, plants may fall open and be much looser. You may want to confine lemongrass to a container in regions with mild winters. Otherwise, these plants can spread aggressively.
To keep lemongrass plants going through cold winters, you can easily start a new plant by digging a division or even rooting a young shoot. It's even possible to start a plant from the shoots you can get in the grocery stores. Simply place them in a cup of water and, once roots begin to grow, plant them in well-drained potting soil.
Throughout the growing season, you can gather leaves as needed by cutting them at the base of the plant. To harvest whole stalks of lemongrass, cut the stalks when they're roughly 2-1/2 inches long and nearly an inch wide at the base.
Lemongrass requires liquid to disperse its essential oils. The simplest way to do this is to steep the leaves in hot water for a refreshing tea, or use it to season soups, stews, and marinades. You can also chop any excess stalks and freeze them for up to one year, and leaf pieces for up to five months.
You can also preserve leaves by hanging them upside down in a dark place to dry. Once the stalks are dry, chop them and store in an airtight container to be used at a later time. The dried leaves make a great addition to green tea. Just remember: Drying herbs concentrates their flavor, so for teas and other recipes, you need less dry lemongrass than fresh lemongrass.