Cymbopogon - Citronella Grass, Lemon Grass
DESCRIPTION: C. citratus is a tender, ornamental grass that has a fragrance resembling the scent of lemons. It grows in clumps from 4 to 6 feet high and has slender leaves and grass-like flowers in terminal spikes or racemes. Lemongrass belongs to the Grass family, Gramineae and is native of India. The related C. nardus is the source of citronella, a popular, old-fashioned insect repellent.
POTTING: These plants should be planted in a sunny position in moist soil. These plants will tolerate a wide range of conditions. In the North, plant them in containers filled with loam, leaf mold and sand and set in a sunny corner protected from cold winds. Bring them inside during the winter. Cut off the outer leaves at the base as needed. Use them fresh, or dry in a dark room to preserve the green color. The lower sections of the stalks are peeled, chopped fine, and pounded to release their flavor for stir frying and fish or poultry sauces. The fibrous leaf blades are used to flavor fish stocks and curries and are removed before serving.
PROPAGATION: Buy started plants or divide old clumps and plant when the weather is safe.
VARIETIES: C. citratus (Lemon Grass); C. Nardus (the Citronella Grass).
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