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CYMBOPOGON citratus

Image of Cymbopogon citratus

James H. Schutte

Family

Poaceae

Botanical Name

CYMBOPOGON citratus

Plant Common Name

Lemon Grass, Lemongrass

General Description

Fast-growing and clump-forming, lemongrass has leaf blades rich in fragrant oils that smell lemony when crushed. The bases are used to flavor any number of dishes in Indian and Southeast Asian Cuisine. A Southeast Asian native, this tender perennial grass is evergreen where hardy and fast-growing.

The wide, blue-green blades of lemongrass may be coarse or sharp to the touch, so handle with gloves when harvesting the tender, fragrant bases. The blades rise from bulbous rhizomes that spread over time to form substantial clumps. Specimens attain lovely, V-shaped habits with maturity and mature plants develop grassy flowers in late summer.

Grow lemongrass in full or partial sun and moist, well-drained, fertile soil. Cut clumps back during the growing season if they become too large. Always wear gloves when handling as the blade edges can easily cut flesh. Lemongrass is frost sensitive and often grown as an annual in cold climates but may return in spring in mild winter regions (USDA zones 8 and 9). It is also easily grown indoors in large pots. Whether grown indoors or out, clumps should be divided every one to two years.

Lemongrass is a must-have for lovers of Asian cuisine. To harvest, cut a cluster of blades back to the fleshy base, chop off the grassy tips and remove the tough outer blades. This should yield a tender bulbous base. Wrap in a damp towel and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator if need be.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    8 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 12, 13, 16, 17, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Herb

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m (4)

  • Width

    2'-4' / 0.6m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Summer, Early Fall

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water, Ample Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Blue Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Blue Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes