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LEMONGRASS: Cymbopogon citratus

Lemongrass is truly an all-star plant for edible landscaping and food foresting. Choosing plants for a food forest or edible landscape is all about selecting plants that have the most diverse array of functions that benefit the gardener and the garden system. Lemongrass is a great garden border, soil stabilizer, mulch crop, pest deterrent, tea plant, medicinal plant, spice plant, and low windbreak.

Now you may be thinking, a plant this useful must be hard to grow/propagate? Actually lemongrass is the easiest perennial plant to grow and propagate in most sub-tropical and tropical locations. Lemongrass can also be grown as an annual in many temperate locations. I always recommend lemongrass for any Florida Edible Landscape design, as it is beautiful, hardy, and quite functional. Lemongrass plants are available at most fine garden centers in Florida. If your friend or neighbor has a lemongrass plant you can always ask for a piece of theirs. Lemongrass is best started from divisions in the spring and summer. Carefully select the thickest, most mature grass stalk from the plant. Follow the stalk down towards the ground and grasp the swollen base of the stalk. Pull upwards on the stalk and twist clockwise, separating a single grass stalk and a few white or brownish roots. Trim about half the length of the grass leaves off, and place the cutting in a bucket of water overnight. The next day plant the cutting in a sunny location with plenty of room for a large grass that can reach five ft. in height and three ft. across. Supply the plant with compost, mulch, and some water for the first few weeks of growth. After establishment lemongrass benefits from yearly trimming and compost applications.

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