Lemon cypress house plant care
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Lemon cypress house plant care
Lemon cypress (called the lemon plant for some reason) is a popular houseplant that can look like a lemony green colored tree, and is fairly easy to grow. Lemon cypress houseplant care can be done with little effort. Lately, this plant is also known as lemon balm (my mother called it that all the time) and a type of tree (somehow). It is not a true lemon tree.
Some people give this plant a bad name for the lemon odor of its leaves. According to an article I found on the net, "plant root exudates contain mainly citral (french word for "citronella") from the leaves, and the leaves can release 1.4 to 5.2 mg/leaf/minute of this major monoterpene", but this is not the whole story. The smell doesn't really bother me, and it is only a slight lemon smell.
"Cymbopogon citratus, popularly known as lemon grass, lemon balm or citronella, is a species of citronella grass (family: Poaceae) native to India, the Middle East, Africa, and South America, but the vast majority of lemon balm growing in the United States is from South America, Mexico, Florida, and Texas, and does not produce essential oils. Lemon balm is closely related to species of the genus Cymbopogon, including elecampane, and is one of several plants often referred to as "citronella". Its essential oil has little or no citronellol. Cymbopogon citratus is unrelated to the other citronella species."
I don't know what is true and what is not. What I do know is that I cannot eat the leaves of this plant. I don't want to, and I think that it might be poisonous if you cook with the leaves. I will discuss the plants health benefits soon, and how you can do your part to help the environment and maintain its health. Here are some interesting facts about lemon cypress, thanks to my plant friend, Keiko, from Wikipedia:
"Leaf palatability: The flavour and aroma of lemon cypress has been variously described as "citrusy", "limescent" and "honey-lemon". This genus produces multiple terpenoid leaf fragrances. No major qualitative differences have been found between the terpenoid components of the leaves from the three species in the citrus/citronella subfamily, Cymbopogon."
Herbal cleaning agent:
"Due to the woody nature of the leaves, lemon cypress may be used as a source of essential oils to perfume incense. A study in Malaysia found that lemon cypress (Cymbopogon citratus) oil was 60.9% citronellal, 23.3% geranial, 16.2% geraniol and 0.2% limonene (its major constituents). These properties make it useful for air fresheners and as a natural disinfectant in carpets and in the handling of meat.
Leaves have been employed as an important medicinal herb in South America for centuries. The leaves are steeped in warm water or vinegar and taken internally to relieve a variety of stomach upsets."
General comments on care:
Lemon cypress is a relatively easy houseplant to care for. It does not need much water. Keep the leaves at least 2 feet away from any heating vents. The air flow of the vent can sometimes blow the leaves over, and if you have a glass window near the vent, you may have a problem. It can be placed in full sun, but keep in mind that the plants grow very large, and if placed too close to any direct sun they may die. I planted mine in full sun, and when they got to be about 3 feet high, I moved them to suns shadows, and they did fine there. If you don't want to spend time maintaining them, don't get it. People think it takes too much work, but once they are established they seem to do okay on their own. The lemon flavor comes from the leaves.
The common houseplants can be purchased and planted in a week, as they are readily available. The lemon cypress needs more care, but that shouldn't take more than a week. It will not survive the winter if planted outside, but it does not have to be. A houseplant can be kept year round, but it should be watered. Keeping it at around 50-55 degrees is ideal. If you get cold weather, do not water it. It will do fine with about an inch of water, as it needs very little. Water from the top, with a soaker hose. If you have a central air conditioning vent, the room will cool faster if you keep the leaves out of the vent. If you have a window air conditioner that blows the leaves to the ceiling, you can bring it in at night when the room is cool, and keep it out during the day.
Keep the potting soil loosely moist, but not wet. Let the soil be dry, and fertilize with a deep water soluble fertilizer twice a month, according to the directions on the package. Put a good thick layer of potting soil in the bottom of the pot, fill it about half way, and then put the plant in the soil. You may want to leave some soil at the bottom of the pot if you think the plant might root there.
It will take about 8-10 weeks before it gets to be a big tree. It will not flower, but it will bloom if you pick the leaves. The flowers are tiny, and if you don't get them, it will not affect the health of the plant, but if you do get them, they are small, but a pretty orange color. They have a very bad smell, but if you use a paper bag, they do not smell as bad. When they are ready to pick them, put them in the bag, let them sit for about a