Vegetables and Fruit forum: what is lemon grass and lemon balm?

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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
Feb 12, 2014 1:39 PM CST
I think there is a lemon mint? How are these all different, and does lemon grass have a lemon-like flavor to it?

Is it hardy?
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
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Horseshoe
Feb 12, 2014 2:21 PM CST
Lemon grass is just that, a grass. And no, in your area it won't be hardy. Yes, it does smell like lemon, it's wonderful! Course now, I love the smell of lemon! The lower shoots are usually used in Thai cooking but I've used the upper grass parts for tea as well as for braiding and making wands out of.

Lemon Balm is a low-growing plant, possibly perennial in your zone and smells even more lemony than lemon grass does. I used to sell quite a few plants of it. Perfect for teas and cooking.

Lemon mint? I don't think I've ever grown it so can't really speak about it from experience.

Shoe
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Feb 12, 2014 2:27 PM CST
These plants are all in the database...
Lemon grass is not hardy in my area, lemon balm grows very well. have also grown lemon basil. All taste like lemon, and can be cooked with.

Lemon mint is actually an annual monarda.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
Feb 12, 2014 2:38 PM CST
yes I found lemon grass in the data base but it didn't specifically say anything about the taste. Just that it is used for cooking.
I do see now that it is not hardy. So that is out on my list.
I might try the lemon basil, which I don't think is hardy either, but maybe I can dry it.
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
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Horseshoe
Feb 12, 2014 2:48 PM CST
Yes, you can dry it. Lemon Basil will also give you a nice harvest in a short time. The lemon grass you can over winter though in a cool garage and replant it out the following year, which is how I keep it going. And it easily roots in a glass of water...you can even buy some from a grocery store if it has the root ends and grow your own stock plants.

I would think Lemon Balm (Melissa) would be hardy in your area but don't know for sure..it sure makes it through our roughest winters.

Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
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bitbit
Feb 24, 2014 4:20 PM CST
@stone, you may be able to overwinter lemongrass if you try. It gave me no trouble on the zone 7/8 border in a spot that was protected from wind.

@Frillylily, the taste of lemongrass is fairly distinctive. It's a bit lemony, but also very "green" if that makes sense. It's used in a lot of Asian recipes, such as Thai green curry. I would sometimes chew it in the garden or flavor water with a mashed leaf or two. It's also a good companion plant, with a strong smell that deters a lot of pests. I had it planted beside my gate, to keep the mosquitoes at bay, and it seemed to help.
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Feb 24, 2014 4:41 PM CST
Lemon grass is also a favorite of mine for soap (great smell) and when chopped small enough it works as a great abrasive.

If you grow lemon balm , best contain it or it can take over . In the mint family. I think it is well worth growing there are a lot of health benefits in tea from this herb and it is a natural insect repellent including mosquitoes.

If you are looking for lemon scented herbs you also might like to try lemon verbena ,I think it has an even stronger sent than the two above mentioned.
...and there a very nice lemon thyme that is great with fish or in herbal teas.
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Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Feb 24, 2014 5:59 PM CST
gardengus said:If you grow lemon balm , best contain it or it can take over . In the mint family.

Any lemon balm that I've ever grown... spread only by seeds, didn't have stolons.
I've never observed a need to contain.
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Feb 24, 2014 7:00 PM CST
Are you sure you have lemon balm (melissa officinalis) ?
mine has square stems and behaves like mint , maybe just a bit more controlled.
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
Feb 24, 2014 7:47 PM CST
Lemon grass grows well here but it is a favorite of my dogs and cats. I had 2 large clumps of it that are now just stubs and they are still trying to chew on it. I am going to get some more and put it in a protected place so I can grow enough for the animals and for the kitchen. I love making stir fry with lemon grass, the taste is marvelous.

This is my cat Tita chowing down on it when i first got it. It's down to a few stubs now.


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Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Feb 25, 2014 8:13 AM CST
gardengus said:Are you sure you have lemon balm (melissa officinalis) ?
mine has square stems and behaves like mint , maybe just a bit more controlled.

I need to take pics...
The only vegetative spreading I've ever seen the lemon balm do (my garden or anybody else's), is when a limb gets covered... then it may root... but zero stolons...

The mint is all coming up in large spreading patches... the lemon balm is just sitting there in it's original location.
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Feb 25, 2014 8:49 AM CST
I will also check when the snow is gone and things green up .
I have just always assumed it was running , maybe it is starting from fallen and covered branches Confused
I have plants in at least 5 places and have had to reduce their size/numbers every year.
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Feb 25, 2014 9:22 AM CST
I planted lemon grass as an annual but a wise friend told me to cut it back, dig it up, and overwinter it in pots in the house. It's fun to watch it grow almost an inch a day in the kitchen.

There are over 50 different species of lemongrass.

Mine is Cymbopogon citratus (the common herb used in cooking).

Cymbopogon nardus and winterianus are the two main sources of Citronella Oil - like for insect repellents.


Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Feb 25, 2014 10:17 PM CST
Like many here, I love all things lemon. I grow lemon grass and cut it back, dig and pot to move it in for winters. My cat/dog collection likes it also so I planted some lemon catnip seed for them also.

I have found lemon verbena to be the most wonderful lemon flavor there is short of real lemons but it is a tender plant and needs to be overwintered for me in zone 8.

And lemon balm was once compared to the odor the lemon pledge furniture polish, a very oily, strong lemon smell.

I also have a Meyer Lemon tree in a pot here that is blooming with the most wonder fragrant blossoms right now and later I will savor the lemons.

Another lemon to consider, there is the lemon thyme which should be cold hardy for you.
[Last edited by pod - Feb 25, 2014 10:19 PM (+)]
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Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
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LindaTX8
Mar 8, 2014 11:55 PM CST
I'm hoping my lemon grass will come back after such a cold winter. If not, my friend can give me another one!
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