Better known as lemon grass, citronella is a perennial that is distinguished by its unique bearing and its many fragrant leaves. Well-liked for its medicinal properties and its powerful aroma, this exotic plant must imperatively be planted in containers when grown in cold climates. Quite fragile in winter, lemon grass must benefit from proper care and maintenance to retain its beautiful foliage.

Plant of the grass family, lemon grass is a perennial grown in tropical countries for the many properties of its long, thin leaves. Prepared as an infusion, lemon grass is indeed particularly effective against colds and coughs. In addition, the lemony aroma given off by its leaves has the amazing ability of repelling mosquitoes. But the uses of lemongrass go well beyond the features listed above because, in cooking, this herb is included in the composition of many dishes as well as many soft drinks. In warm regions, lemon grass is a plant that is generally grown outside and in-ground, mainly in vegetable gardens. Thanks to the favourable weather conditions that prevail, the plant thrives, branches out and divides itself into a number of bulbs that can be used to create new cuttings. However, in countries where climatic conditions are much less mild, lemon grass must be grown in pots and sheltered from the cold and rain. With regular maintenance, the plant forms a nice clump that fully blooms throughout summer, revealing all the intensity of its aroma.

How to plant lemon grass?

Before putting your young plant in the ground, choose a location with the lowest possible air humidity level. Very sensitive to moisture, lemon grass needs a dry atmosphere to grow and thrive. Moreover, the plant should be placed in a warm room and well-lit room that benefits from good sun exposure throughout the day. With regard to soil type, it is important to know that lemon grass is a perennial that rather appreciates rich, fertile and well-drained land. During the planting phase, dig deep enough hole for the plant’s root system to develop properly and grow stronger. Then, gently detach the root ball from its original container and transplant it into a larger pot to allow for new bulbs to emerge. Afterwards, water your young plant and keep it in a warm room until it is strong enough to be moved.

How to maintain lemon grass?

To prevent your lemon grass from withering, avoid frequent and overly plentiful waterings that ultimately undermine the plant’s root system. In summer, only water your plant only two to three times a week while in winter, reduce watering frequency to limit the negative impact that humidity has on the plant. If you want to use your lemon leaves, wait for the summer to cut them, being very careful not to touch the bulbs in doing so. Until the arrival of fall, you will be able to maintain your lemon by removing the yellowed and damaged leaves that unnecessarily deplete the plant and prevent it from growing properly. However, it is essential not to thin out the tuft in winter because this procedure would unfortunately only cause irreversible damage to the plant. In the spring, your lemon grass can be transplanted into a larger pot to encourage better branching. It should also regularly be supplied with organic fertilizers. Finally, be aware that lemon grass is a very hardy plant that is almost never victim to disease or parasites. Regularly maintained, your plant will remain healthy and beautiful throughout the year, allowing you to enjoy its beautiful foliage and its delicate lemon scent.

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Published in Tisane by Alexander on 28 Jul 2011