Lemongrass is an example of a plant that looks almost too inconspicuous but is nevertheless amazing to grow at home. This tropical greenery is quite popular in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Why you might want to grow lemongrass?
Named after its citrusy scent, lemongrass is also known as “citronella”. And it’s that strong fragrant component that is its most defining feature. Great as a potted plant, as a natural mosquito repellent, as well as for tea, here’s why you’d probably want to grow lemongrass in your home.
Most people love the scent and taste of citrus fruits. Mosquitoes, however, don’t. The pesky blood-suckers are known to avoid a lot of plants such as lavender, marigolds, rosemary, catnip, and citronella is certainly on that list as well.
Relying window nets is still the best way to protect your home from mosquitoes, of course, but lemongrass can still be very useful as well. Placing several pots of it outside your windows, on your porch or patio, or across your yard can make your outdoors safer as well.
Lemongrass is not a flamboyant and spectacular-looking plant like roses or tulips but it makes for a great decoration, both indoors and outdoors. The elongated green leaves and the bushes they grow into are very pleasing to the eye. Such greeneries have already been proven to have calming and relaxing effects on our psyche.
A pleasant scent
Another calming feature of lemongrass is its noticeable citrusy scent. Even just a couple of bushy pots in your living room or office can drastically improve the air quality and feel of the space.
While not the most popular plant for tea, lemongrass has a lot to offer in that regard as well. It has great anti-oxidant properties, as well as strong antimicrobial characteristics. It’s also been shown to be effective against multiple types of fungus and bacteria.
Lemongrass tea also alleviates stomach cramping and has even been demonstrated to help against gastric ulcers. There are studies hinting at lemongrass reducing high systolic blood pressure too. As for cancer, while lemongrass has been rumored to help prevent various cancers, there’s not enough research about that as of today.
Most of the lemongrass’s bodies are leaves which aren’t really usable for cooking. The tubular base of those leaves can be used for cooking, however. There are lots of Asian recipes that have used lemongrass for millennia for anything from curries to marinades, as well as for cocktails and stir-fries.
It’s especially good in soups and sauces because of its strong aroma and flavor. To prep your lemongrass for cooking just remember to:
- Remove the tough outer leaves from the stalks
- Cut off the bulbs
- Remove the upper third of the stalks (around where it stops being yellow and flashy)
- Chop the soft lower halves of the stalks into little pieces and use them in your cooking
Lemongrass is very firm and fibrous too which makes it quite good for our digestive system as well.
Lemongrass essential oils
While it won’t be practical to try and extract essential oils out of your own potted lemongrass, it’s worth looking into lemongrass essential oils anyway. It’s well-known to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as to help with joint pains and headaches.
Is there anything to be careful with when it comes to lemongrass?
As with anything else, extraordinarily high doses of lemongrass can be problematic. There have been some anecdotal reports that inhaling too much of it can worsen certain lung conditions if you’re not careful. There were also cases of children getting poisoned after swallowing lemongrass oil-based repellents.
When it comes to just growing the plant in a couple of pots at home, however, there don’t seem to be any significant problems.
As for pregnant or breastfeeding women, there’s not enough evidence to suggest that lemongrass tea or culinary use can have negative effects but avoiding it during period may be advisable.
Lemongrass and cats
If you’re a cat owner and you start growing lemongrass at home you’ll quickly notice how strongly affected felines are with this plant. Much like with catnip, most cats adore lemongrass and tend to eat its leaves. This can make growing the plant challenging as your cat likely won’t even let it grow. However, once fully-grown, the lemongrass pot should be able to make up for what the cat consumes.
And, not to worry, lemongrass is not harmful to felines. It’s possible that your cat eats so much at once that it throws up, but there shouldn’t be any negative effects on its health after that.
Be careful with lemongrass essential oils, however – those are exceptionally toxic to cats and still attract them with their scent. Unlike humans and dogs, cats don’t have the liver enzyme Glucuronosyltransferase that breaks down essential oils so keep the lemongrass essential oil bottles out of your feline’s reach.