Do you enjoy the taste of lemons? If so, lemon verbena (Aloysia triphyllaan) is a delightful addition to your herb garden. The sweet lemon flavor and delicious fragrance from this delicate perennial add a nice touch to many foods and drinks.
Growing Lemon Verbena
Native to the tropics, lemon verbena is a perennial in frost-free Zones 9-10. Lemon verbena does best with full sun, but some afternoon shade is a good idea in hot climates. Here in California, you’ll find the popular herb growing year-round in many home gardens.
Lemon verbena grows best in rich, well drained soil that has been amended with organic matter such as Buckaroo worm castings.
In ideal growing conditions, lemon verbena can grow up to 8 feet tall. However, the plant will stay a tidy size when it’s pruned frequently, and you can grow the herb in containers.
Above is the smallest Hula Planter we would recommend for this herb, so there is enough room for the roots to develop. Eventually, we’ll plant this herb out in our California garden. Meanwhile, we recommend a high quality potting mix with excellent drainage, such as Empire Builder for containers.
Pests and Problems
Not only do humans love lemon verbena, so do spider mites and whiteflies. A sharp spray of water will knock off these pests in the early stages – or, try insecticidal soap.
Lemon verbena grows year-round in its native locations. However, when the days grow shorter and colder, the herb drops its leaves when entering dormancy. Don’t overwater the herb during dormancy, as this is a common way to kill the plant. Other reasons for leaf drop include quick temperature changes, root disturbances or transplanting.
Bringing Inside in Winter
Some Northern gardeners like to wait until the herb drops its leaves before bringing it inside to rest over the winter. This way they avoid transporting pests inside their homes. The dormant herb is then put in a cool, dark place, where it receives little to no water until spring.
Eating Lemon Verbena
Try crumbling dried leaves finely before using in chilled soups. Infuse fresh or dried leaves in just-boiled water for herbal tea. Brine pork chops with lemon verbena leaves before grilling. Mix minced lemon verbena with other herbs for salad dressings. Or, include leaves in sauces for fish.
Even the pretty little flowers are edible, and have a light lemon flavor. Try sprinkling a few flowers on a fruit salad.
Lemon-lovers, this one is definitely for you. Have fun experimenting with this delicious and attractive herb.
More Lemon Verbena Advice
Cooking with Lemon Verbena (Los Angeles Times)