Lemon grass has only recently become a well-known herb in the U.S. though it has been a key ingredient in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine for centuries. The traditional uses of this prized plant extend beyond southeast Asian and into Brazil where it is used to induce sleep. Lemon grass is known for its medicinal qualities in the Caribbean and India as well. Lemon grass is also known to have insect repelling properties.
Originating in Sri Lanka and India, lemon grass grows in clumps like most grass. It has blue-green razor-sharp leaves, an onion-like base and grows to be about 3 feet tall. The late season flowers bloom only in sub-tropical conditions.
Lemon grass is increasingly becoming a favorite culinary herb in the US and, luckily, it is a good Southern grower. Good mulch helps lemon grass to tolerate colder temperatures, even to below freezing but without mulching it is cold sensitive. Also try transplanting your lemon grass into a container with lots of mulch during the winter and cut it back drastically. It is also a drought-resistant herb.