Lemongrass is a tropical herb plant, native to Southern Asia that will freeze at temperatures below 15 F. It is a perennial in USDA growing zones 8-11 but other places it will freeze in the winter so it is best to grow in a pot and bring indoors during the cold months.
This herb has a powerful taste and aroma of lemon and citrus and is often brewed in tea and used as a herb in seasoning. The essential oil extracted from this plant has well documented medicinal properties.
Lemongrass, also known as fever grass, has barbed wire grass and silky heads, it is one of those slightly exotic, really fun foods to grow and use. Not only does it add great flavor to a variety of dishes but it also carries significant health benefits.
The main component of lemongrass is lemonal, also known as citral, which has powerful anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties and gives lemongrass its pleasing lemony aroma. Both the fresh and dried leaves of the plant contain volatile oils where citral is found.
Before we dig into how to grow and use lemongrass, let’s explore some of its powerful health benefits.
Lemongrass Is Packed With Powerful Nutrients Including
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
Lemongrass Lowers Cholesterol
Lemongrass has anti-hyperlipidemic and anti-hypercholesterolemic properties that support healthy cholesterol levels. Research shows that regular consumption of lemongrass can keep triglycerides at a healthy level and reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol. This keeps lipids from accumulating in the blood and allows blood to flow unobstructed in arteries and support a healthy cardiovascular system.
Read Next: 18 Natural Ways To Lower Cholesterol Fast
Lemongrass Is A Powerful Detoxifier
Lemongrass helps to cleanse and flush harmful toxic wastes from the body. Detoxification also helps regulate the liver and kidneys while reducing levels of uric acid. Because lemongrass has a diuretic effect, quantity, and frequency of urination increases upon consumption. This helps keep the digestive system healthy and the whole body clean.
Lemongrass Can Relieve Pain
Lemongrass contains powerful painkilling properties that can help especially with headaches or migraines. The phytonutrients in lemongrass help with a variety of muscle spasms and muscle cramps. If you are an athlete or participate in intensive exercise you will want to include lemongrass in your diet to boost your recovery.
Lemongrass Can Boost Immunity
Not only can lemongrass reduce inflammation but it can also help boost immunity. It can help with a better absorption of nutrients which also strengthens the immune defenses in the body.
Lemongrass Improves Cellular Health
The powerful antioxidant qualities in lemongrass help to protect cells from free radicals and cleanse the blood, helping the spleen discard tarnished red blood cells. In addition, it helps increase the production of white blood cells, aids in DNA synthesis and promotes the division of cells.
Lemongrass Promotes A Healthy Nervous System
Lemongrass is nervine and has been proven to be a helpful tonic for the nervous system. It stimulates the mind and helps with conditions such as nervousness, vertigo, convulsions and other neuronal disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. When used in the bath, lemongrass oil can calm the nerves and reduce the symptoms of anxiety and fatigue caused by stress.
Lemongrass Can Remedy Infections
The powerful antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties of lemongrass make it effective in treating infections such as scabies, ringworm, scabies, athlete’s foot, and urinary tract infections. Research supports the use of lemongrass for yeast infections as well.
Additional Health Benefits & Uses
- Cancer prevention
- Respiratory disorders
How To Grow Lemongrass:
Although you can grow lemongrass from seed, the best way is to grow it from a fresh lemongrass stalk. You can purchase these at most supermarkets, Asian stores or online. Look for the freshest stalk you can find, growing a new plant will be easier if you start with a healthy stalk.
Lemongrass will grow to be 3 to 5 feet in height and 2 feet wide. If you are growing in a container, choose at least a 5-gallon pot so that the plant has room to spread out.
Trim The End:
Trim a couple of inches off the end of the lemongrass stalk, removing anything that looks dead. The bottom of the stalk should feel slightly damp and spongy. Put the stalks in a glass of water and place in a sunny window. Change out the water every couple of days. Within a few weeks, you should see roots at the bottom of the stalk. Now the stalk is ready for planting.
Planting In The Garden:
If you are planting directly in the ground (in warmer regions), be sure to space plants out at least 18 to 24 inches and locate in sunny, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. In warmer areas, lemongrass makes an excellent ornamental grass screen or hedge. Treat lemongrass like an ornamental grass. Use it to create an informal screen—in pots or beds. In planting beds, space plants 18 to 24 inches apart. Lemongrass creates a nice edging for a path or driveway; just be sure to position plants so they have ample room to spread. Or draft lemongrass to add a strong vertical element to planting beds. Fertilize throughout the garden season with a fish emulsion or compost tea and keep the soil wet. This plant likes tropical conditions.
Planting In A Pot:
Start your stalks using the method explained above. Once you see some sturdy roots you can plant your stalk in a small container at first but be prepared to transplant to at least a five-gallon pot as you plant grows. Use organically rich, lightweight potting soil that drains well. Place your new plant in a sunny and warm location indoors and keep the soil wet, but not soggy. Fertilize every two weeks or so with a fish emulsion or compost tea.
Read Next: 6 Reasons To Make Compost Tea & How To Do It
You can harvest from the plant when it reaches at least one foot in height. To take the entire stalk, use a clean and sharp knife to slice each one off at the soil level. Be careful to take outer stalks first, they should be ½ inch thick before you cut them. Don’t break them off or you could damage the plant. Keep in mind that you might have to peel away tougher outer leaves before using. Store the stalk with the leaves in the fridge for freshness for about three days. The best way I find to preserve it is to keep it in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel. You can chop up pieces of the stalk and freeze for later use. You can also dry the leaves to preserve them for later use.
Ways To Use Lemongrass
Here are some great lemongrass recipes that allow you to reap all the benefits of this delicious herb.
1. Make Lemongrass Oil At Home
You can make your own lemongrass oil at home for therapeutic use. Although this oil may not be as potent as therapeutic grade oil purchased from a high-quality supplier, it still works great.
- 4 lemongrass stalks
- Mortar and pestle or something heavy to bash the lemongrass with
- Jars (one amber colored)
- One cup of rice bran oil
How to make
- Trim off the lemongrass leaves. All you need is the white stalk of the plant.
- Clean and roughly chop two stalks of lemongrass into 1-inch pieces.
- Hit the lemongrass in a mortar and pestle. This will release the grass’s essential oil.
- Pour the carrier oil into a jar and add the lemongrass. Screw the lid on and shake. Put the jar in a warm spot for 48 hours. A windowsill works great.
- Strain the contents through a piece of cheesecloth into a second jar.
- Repeat the process using new lemongrass stalks each time until you are happy with the fragrance.
- Strain into a dark glass and store in a cool, dark place. Use within 12 months.
2. Lemongrass Cooling Tea
This healthy, cooling beverage is easy to make and delicious. It can help aid in digestion, is loaded with antioxidants, can regulate blood pressure, aid in weight loss, help relieve menstrual pain and keep your skin looking great.
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups roughly chopped lemongrass stalks
- ¼ cup stevia
- Lime wheels for garnish
How To Make It:
- Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
- Add the lemongrass and boil for 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain the stalks and stir in the stevia until dissolved.
- Serve warm or cool and serve over ice.
3. Arthritis Pain Balm
Lemongrass helps remedy pain and swelling associated with arthritis including osteoarthritis and rheumatism.
How To Make It:
Mix equal amounts of coconut oil and lemongrass oil. Apply several times a day to painful joints.
4. Lemongrass Pore Cleansing Steam Facial
Lemongrass will cleanse pores, detoxify and soothe irritated skin and leave you feeling fresh. This steam bath is also good for cleansing your sinuses if you have a cold.
How To Make It:
Slice lemongrass into a bowl. Boil hot water and pour over the lemongrass. Place your head over the bowl and drape a towel over your head. Breathe in and relax. Enjoy the steam for about five minutes and rinse your face with cool water and pat dry.
5. Lemongrass Thai Soup
If you are battling a cold or just want to rev up your immunity or enjoy a delicious meal, this soup is for you.
- 1 stalk of lemongrass
- 5 slices ginger root
- 1 medium lime
- 2 small red chilies
- 4 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili paste with garlic
- 6 ounces tomatoes, cut into chunks
- 5 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 30 small cooked shrimp
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
How To Make It:
- Remove a few top leaves from the lemongrass stem and cut off a bit of the end.
- Using a knife handle, slightly bruise the stem and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Set them aside.
- Slightly bruise the chilies and cut them in half. Remove the seeds.
- Put a pot on the stove and fill with water, bring to a boil and add the lemongrass and ginger.
- Squeeze half the lime into the water and boil for about 3 minutes.
- Mix in the fish sauce along with the chili-garlic paste and cook for one minute.
- Mix in the mushrooms and tomato and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add fish sauce and chili-garlic paste.
- Add the juice from the other half of the lime and remove the pot from the stove.
6. Banana Lemongrass Tropical Smoothie
This smoothie is delicious first thing in the morning or for a pick-me-up any time.
- 2 frozen bananas
- 4 lemongrass stalks
- Juice from a lime
- 1 ½ cup coconut milk
- Pinch of turmeric
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
How To Make It:
- Place bananas in the blender.
- Remove tough outer layers from lemongrass stalks.
- Cut lemongrass into thin slices.
- Add lime juice.
- Pour coconut milk into the blender and blend until smooth.
- Add honey blend again.
- Enjoy immediately.