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Tropical Garden Grow Guide

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lemon grass
photo credit: Elinam MM

Botanic Name
Cymbopogan citratus
Plant Type
subtropical perennial
Prefers full sun, but will grow in a semi-shaded location.
6-8 neutral
Soil Preference
Well drained loamy soil.  Lemongrass tolerates clay and sandy soils, does not like soggy wet soil.


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Plant of the month December 2022


by Mary Loan

Lemongrass is a popular ornamental grass with a pleasant lemony aroma that has culinary and medicinal properties.  Citronella oil is extracted from lemongrass. In Belize it is better known as fever grass and can be found growing in many gardens in Belize.


How to grow
: Dig into the side of an established clump of lemongrass.  Cut out a small amount of lemongrass with its bulbous root intact. Trim each clump leaving about 3-4 inches of growth and plant each clump you harvest directly in soil.  Be sure to water often during the dry season.  Some gardeners recommend planting clumps in the corners of your garden to help prevent insects. A 2-3 inch clump of grass bulbs will grow to be about 3-4 feet across and approximately 2-3 feet in height in about one years time.  Over the years the plant will spread and can grow to be up to 6 feet across and about half as as tall.  Often a good pruning will encourage fresh growth.


Disease and insect control: Lemongrass is seldom bothered by insects or disease due to its strongly scented and sharp edged blades.


To harvest with scissors or a sharp knife, cut a clump of lemongrass down to the root. Rinse and chop into 2-3 inch pieces to brew into tea. A handful steeped in about 2-3 cups of boiled water makes a nice tea served hot or cold.


Health benefits: Lemongrass and lemongrass oil are considered to be antioxidant, antifungal, antiobiotic, fever reducing and anti-inflammatory. Lemongrass contains vitamin A. Lemongrass oil is used as a non-toxic insect repellent, but must be applied frequently.


Bee keepers use lemon grass to attract bees.  The scent is used as a soap ingredient, to make incense and hair and skin products.


Recipe: To add a gentle lemon flavor to soups, vegetable, noodle and rice dishes, add a  few bulbs while the dish is cooking and remove before serving as the bulbs can be fibrous.


If you are interested in the art of extracting lemongrass oil as a commercial venture, please watch a presentation by Dr. Mathew, owner of the Belize Spice Farm.

Dr. Mathew - Belize Spice Farm