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Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrates), is an easy to grow edible that makes an excellent patio, porch, or indoor plant.
Uses of lemongrass
The inner, white core of lemongrass is used in Thai food, marinades, soups, salads, spice rubs, curries, stir-fry and many more delicious recipes. Lemongrass can be used fresh or dried. Lemongrass oil is used as a preservative and as a pesticide. Lemongrass has anti fungal properties, but that trait does not correlate to the yellow mushrooms commonly found in overwatered container plants. This mushroom is considered inedible, so do not eat it. The presence of the mushroom does not affect the lemongrass.
Lemongrass seedlings can be purchased at most garden supply stores, or you can start your own from stalks bought at the grocery store. Just be aware that grocery store plants may be carrying soil borne diseases that can wreak havoc in your garden. To use store bought stalks, rinse well and remove any dead or damaged leaves. Put the stalks into a glass with an inch of water in the bottom and place on a sunny windowsill. Roots should begin to emerge after a few weeks. Once the roots are a couple of inches long, gather the stalks in one hand and hold over a medium-sized planting container and use the other hand to add potting soil gently around the roots. You can put some soil in the bottom of the container ahead of time. The important thing to keep in mind when transplanting is to make sure that the crown (the place where the stem connects with the roots) is at soil level. Too low and it will rot, too high and the roots can dry out. Water regularly until the plants are established, then water weekly during summer.
Lemongrass prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It reaches its full size of 3-6’ quickly. If planted in the ground, lemongrass plants should be spaced at least 2 feet apart. Lemongrass grown in containers tends to be somewhat smaller, just be sure to use potting mix that does not contain water absorption crystals. A 5-gallon container is ideal. Aged compost can be placed on top of the surrounding soil to stabilize temperatures and add valuable nutrients. Lemongrass uses a lot of nitrogen when growing, so be sure to feed monthly. Since lemongrass is an edible, blood meal, composted manure, fish emulsion, feather meal, cottonseed meal, soybean meal, or alfalfa meal make excellent, chemical-free sources of nitrogen.
Whether you cook with it or not, lemongrass is a lovely accent plant with a faint lemony aroma.
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