Tips For Growing Lemongrass

COMMON NAMES:
Lemongrass, Achara, Citronella, Capim, Fever Tea, Oil Grass, Fever Grass

LATIN NAME:
Cymbopogon citratusis

HISTORY:
Lemongrass is a tropical grass that grows well in humid, warm environments. With possible origins in India and Sri Lanka, this aromatic herb has an extensive use throughout much of Asia as a flavorful cooking additive for salads and curries. It was also historically used in teas, cleaning materials, perfumes, soaps, creams and deodorants. South American folk medicine used the grass for treating treating hypertension, inflammation, nervousness, sleep disorders, infection, fevers and gastrointestinal disorders.

HERBAL PROPERTIES AND USES:
Lemongrass is considered a mild sedative, stomachic, diuretic, anti-parasitical, anti-bacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial agent. It is also a stimulant tonic with the known ability to break down fats and stimulate perspiration. The leaves and oils have been used to treat a variety of conditions, including colds, nervous system imbalances, dyspeptic conditions, generalized stress and exhaustion.

It has also been used as an insect repellent, a treatment for Athlete's foot, headaches, muscle pain, circulation problems, respiratory conditions, sore throat and aids in the tonification of tissues. Recent studies support its use in lowering cholesterol levels. It also has a clear anti-bacterial effect on nematodes, as well an other bacterial infestations. What is more, five of the active constituents in lemongrass have been linked to the that inhibition of blood coagulation.

Lemongrass Cultivation and Growing Methods

ANNUAL/PERRENIAL PLANT:
Perennial

PARTS USED:
Stems/leaves

SOIL REQUIREMENTS:
Fertile, moist loams with a pH level of 6-7.8

SUN REQUIREMENTS:
Full sun and warmth.

HEIGHT:
Average of 2-3 feet, although it can grow up to 9 ft. in height in tropical regions.

SPACING:
24-36 in. (60-90 cm).

GROWING ZONES:
Grows in Zones 9b-11, and in most tropical areas of the world. Can grow well in-doors.

PLANTING TIME:
Early spring after danger of frost has passed. Best to first plant indoors in a warm, sunny environment and re-plant in late spring.

POLLINATION:
Propagates by dividing the root ball and replanting. Also by seed.

FLOWERING/SEEDING TIME:
This grass rarely flowers, but is considered mature at 4-8 months.

HARVESTING:
Harvesting occurs when the plant is 4-8 months old, or when plant is approximately one foot tall. From thereon, lemongrass can be harvested every 3-4 months for approximately 4 years. This is done by cutting the entire stalks and using fresh in teas. Make sure to cut the stalks below the white swollen ends.

DRYING METHODS / YIELD:
Best used fresh. Cut individual stems from white ends, throwing away an discolored parts. Dry in a cool, dry place. Once dried, the stems can be cut into smaller pieces and used in teas.

PLANT YIELD:
One plant can provide an average of 30 inches of usable stalk, or 0.2-0.4% of essential oil.

PRESERVATION / PACKAGING METHODS:
Dried stalks may be stored in an airtight glass container for up to one year.

ESSENTIAL OIL USE:
A soothing, relaxing oil, lemongrass essential oil has been used to treat acne, Athlete's foot, digestive upset, muscle ache, stress and overly oily skin and scabies.

PLANT CHEMICALS:
This grass contains high levels of citral and many other monoterpenoids. These monoterpenoids may be related to the plants sedative, carminiative, antimicrobial and spasmolytic effects.

IS THIS AN EDIBLE PLANT:
Yes

CAUTIONS / CONTRAINDICATIONS:
It should not be used by pregnant and breast-feeding women. Avoid using the oil if you have glaucoma. Children can drink the tea, but not use the oil. Use with care in conditions of prostatic hyperplasia, hypersensitivity of the skin, or in cases of damaged skin.

DRUG INTERACTIONS:
No documented information on interaction, but consult your healthcare provider if you are currently taking medications.

Clinical Research About Lemongrass

  • Elson, et. al. Impact of lemongrass oil, an essential oil, on serum cholesterol. Lipids. 1989 Aug;24(8):677-9. Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706. [PMID: 2586227]

 

References

  1. Gray, Linda. Grow Your Own Pharmacy. 1992. http://www.botanical.com
  2. http://www.greenharvest.com.au/plants/lemongrass_west_indian_info.html
  3. Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener's Guide to Growing Over 50 Herbs Plus. Miranda Smith. p. 126. http://books.google.com/books?id=Zxxm0awYC3QC&pg=RA1-PA126
  4. Medicinal plants of the world: an illustrated scientific guide to important. Ben-Erik Van Wyk, Michael Wink. p. 120. http://books.google.com/books?id=bTdoTayyVrEC&pg=PA120
  5. Julia Lawless, HYPERLINK "http://www.aromaweb.com/books/lawless.asp" The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 56-67.]
  6. Robert Tisserand, HYPERLINK "http://www.aromaweb.com/books/tissera2.asp" Essential Oil Safety (United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone, 1995), 82, 146.
  7. http://www.viable-herbal.com/singles/herbs/s779.htm
  8. http://www.idosi.org/wjas/wjas1(1)/4.pdf

 

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