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Gardening 101: Lemon Verbena

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Gardening 101: Lemon Verbena

August 16, 2017

Lemon Verbena, Aloysia citrodora: “Tea Master”

I am a voracious tea drinker. And I love making my own combinations of different herbs, like some sort of tea scientist (actually, my son enjoys this activity as well).  I really try to grow my own herbs for tea instead of buying them, and one of the herbs I grow is lemon verbena. Noted for its multiple health benefits and the lovely scent of its leaves,  lemon verbena is a plant I highly recommend you grow in your herb garden.

Please read on to learn how to grow this herb garden staple.

Photograph by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr. A 4-inch pot of Lemon Verbena is \$7.95 at Annie&#8\2\17;s Annuals.
Above: Photograph by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr. A 4-inch pot of Lemon Verbena is $7.95 at Annie’s Annuals.
Native to the warmer parts of western South America and brought to Europe by the Spanish and the Portuguese, lemon verbena was mainly cultivated for its oil. When introduced to England in the 1700 it made a cozy home there. Apparently, Victorian women would tuck lemon verbena leaves into their handkerchiefs to get relief from the summer heat by inhaling the citrus smell.

Lemon verbena is a perennial shrub with slightly rough, pointed leaves that emit a powerful lemon scent when bruised. For you Latin buffs,  citrodora means lemon scented.

Photograph by Plenuska via Flickr.
Above: Photograph by Plenuska via Flickr.

Cheat Sheet

  • Sprays of purple or white flowers emerge in late spring and attract beneficials while keeping away mosquitoes and flies.
  • Add a 4-inch or 1-gallon potted lemon verbena plant to your herb garden, alon side other tea favorites such as lemon balm, mint, and camomile.
  • Use the leaves fresh or dried in tea, and dried in potpourri and culinary uses.
  • Above: A package of Dried Lemon Verbena Tea leaves are $8.95 for approximately 1.4 ounces from Tea Life.
dried lemon verbena leaves by Tea Life.
  • Above: A package of Dried Lemon Verbena Tea leaves are $8.95 for approximately 1.4 ounces from Tea Life.

Keep It Alive

  • Frost tender at around 30 degrees Fahrenheit; to avoid death in cold winter areas, plant lemon verbena in a container that you can bring indoors during the winter. If your verbena does lose its leaves, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dead. It might mean winter is coming and it’s going dormancy.
  • Plant in full sun or part sun in hotter regions.  Also, a critical component to lemon verbena’s success is making sure the soil drains well and is rich in organic matter. Clay or acidic soil is detested. Soggy roots equal certain death. Also water sparingly, weekly is good.
  • Grows to 6 feet with regular pruning (or this shrub can become leggy). As with other herbs, regular harvesting is best, and cut the entire stem (avoid just plucking the leaves off when harvesting).

N.B.: See more of our favorite herbs to grow in our Field Guides to Edibles (including Thyme, Sweet Basil, and Sage. And see our favorite tea recipes at Match 101: How to Make the Best Tea and Miracle Cure for Allergies: Gentle Nettle Tea.

Finally, get more ideas on how to successfully plant, grow, and care for lemon verbena with our Lemon Verbena: A Field Guide.

Interested in other edible plants for your garden? Get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various edible plants (including flowers, herbs and vegetables) with our Edible Plants: A Field Guide.

Product summary  

Flowering Perennials

Lemon Verbena

$7.95 USD from Annie's Annuals & Perennials

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