Lemon Grass

Cymbopogon citratus
Family: Poaceae

Native to tropical regions of the Old World, this genus includes over 50 species of perennial, clump-forming grasses. The species called lemon grass is grown commercially for its aro­matic oil, used in perfumery and aromatherapy. The leaves are commonly used in Thai cookery.


C. citratus, lemon grass, forms dense clumps or tufts to about 1.5 m (5 ft) high. The sword-shaped leaves are almost 1 m (3 ft) long and the foliage is highly scented.

C. exaltatus is an attractive grass, native to many areas of Australia. It grows to less than 1 m (3 ft) high and its foliage is strongly lemon scented.

C. nardus, citronella grass, is similar to C. cit­ratus and is the source of citronella oil.


Lemon grass is best grown in well-drained soil, enriched with manure or compost, in full sun. Keep well watered through the growing season. Propagate by division of the clumps in late winter or spring. It can also be grown from seed. In cool and cold climates, it is grown in pots of soil-based potting compost in a warm greenhouse. Ensure good light and a reasonably humid atmosphere.


Zone 10.