Monday, November 3, 2014

Overwintering My Favorite--Lemon Verbena!

October 10, 2009-Probably Just Dug This Up and Brought It Inside
April 20, 2010--Ready to Go Back Into the Herb Garden in About One Month
January 4, 2011--Showing Signs of Life
January 29, 2011--Starting to Put On More Leaves
December 28, 2011--Two Different Lemon Verbenas Both with Leaves-Not Usual

November 4, 2014--This One Has Started to Drop Its Leaves!  A Good Thing!
Lemon verbena is not a perennial herb for me and lots of you all around the United States.  One of my friends on Facebook who lives in Tennessee wrote to me and asked me about overwintering her lemon verbena inside.  So here are the facts as I know them, Pamela.  She said her lemon verbena is starting to look bad, brown leaves, etc.  Don't worry, this is what usually happens with lemon verbena.  It is all about dormancy.  Mark Langan who owns Mulberry Creek Herb Farm in Huron, Ohio, told me that he leaves his lemon verbena out until it loses its leaves.  He says that it comes in and the plant has gone dormant and doesn't have leaves to worry about and that keep the plant stressed.  Stress leads to white flies and spider mites for lemon verbenas inside.

The photos above give you some idea with the dates how our lemon verbenas look during the indoor season.  The Herbal Husband works to keep the leaves on the plant, but sometimes it is better just to cut the plant back and give it a chance to go dormant.  The January 2011 looks are the year I finally got The Herbal Husband to cut back the lemon verbena in December if it hasn't lost its leaves by then and early in January or February once the days start to lengthen, the leaves will start popping out.  My plant we brought this year is more sparse than usual. 

So Pamela, I would cut your lemon verbena back and use the leaves for tea or potpourri.  That will give it a chance to go dormant and get ready for next season.  We put ours in the basement with lights, a south facing window or western facing window.  Any of these locations will work.  We also don't have the greatest windows.  They are drafty and the plants do just fine.  The Herbal Husband waters ours every three to five days, but you need to use your finger to measure how damp the soil is.  You can't neglect watering it is very important to keep the roots viable and the plant living.  All those sticks may not look like anything now, but in February or March you will have a beautiful plant again.  Hope this information has been helpful.

So to recap:

Don't too worried when your lemon verbena starts losing leaves after coming inside for the winter.  It is trying to go dormant.

If you have leaves hanging on into December, just cut your plant back to a foot or so.  You can also just manually take off the leaves without trimming it back.  Just so the leaves are gone.

If you keep the plant watered regularly, you will be rewarded in January or February as the day length gets longer with new leaves.

By April if you are further south, May or June, you will be able to plant it back outside after danger of frost.

Please ask more questions if you have them.  I'm always willing to answer your herbal questions.

There has been some frost in the garden.  So we are just getting the last of the plants cut to dry.  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later.   

16 comments:

Pat said...

Lovely tutorial! But you are The Queen of Lemon Verbena! Always think of you every time I inhale that fragrance.
We are headed for snow showers here and next week the bottom drops out with highs in the low 20's.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi TO,

So happy to hear from you. Thanks for your kind words. I'm sure we are not far behind in weather, but it is November. Take care of yourself. xo

MKB said...

Most helpful, timely info. I was just sighing over the dropping leaves (in Maine, in October). Now I see it as a good sign. I took off most of the leaves and made ice cream. I look forward to February! Thanks.

Unknown said...

Well I here it is May 7th and I overwintered my 3 lemon verbena plants under 24-hour lights. They did not loose their leaves; so, I thought they must be happy plants. They look kind of scrawny though. I cut back some stems with leaves that grew long in April when the geraniums moved outside. Anyhow, May 10th is our frost free date. Weather in the St Louis Area (IL) is warmish and wet. How do I prep these plants to be moved outside? Is it too late to cut them back? They are in indirect light from a south facing window and artificial light head.I watered everyone once a week and the verbenas have survived. Outside the garden faces east and south with areas of sun and partial share. Shadiest is where the Japanese painted fern has lived for 30 years in the shade of 2 Japanese Maples. Do you repot your verbena plants each spring? Wish I had found you blog last fall. Looking forward to your response. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Well I here it is May 7th and I overwintered my 3 lemon verbena plants under 24-hour lights. They did not loose their leaves; so, I thought they must be happy plants. They look kind of scrawny though. I cut back some stems with leaves that grew long in April when the geraniums moved outside. Anyhow, May 10th is our frost free date. Weather in the St Louis Area (IL) is warmish and wet. How do I prep these plants to be moved outside? Is it too late to cut them back? They are in indirect light from a south facing window and artificial light overhead.I watered everyone once a week and the verbenas have survived. Outside the garden faces east and south with areas of sun and partial share. Shadiest is where the Japanese painted fern has lived for 30 years in the shade of 2 Japanese Maples. Do you repot your verbena plants each spring? Wish I had found you blog last fall. Looking forward to your response. Thank you!

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi Unknown,

Lots of unknowns in your questions. If you are planning to keep them potted, you should pot them up with good compost and a bit of manure. Don't put them in direct sun for several days to get them adapted. If they start losing leaves, you can trim them back. When they are adjusted and if they are going to live in pots, give them as much sun as possible. At least morning sun and afternoon shade if you work and aren't there all the time. Because the pots retain heat and can damage the plant. If they are going in the ground, again they do best in a southern exposure and because they are in the ground, you will not have to worry about too much sun. They do not like cool temperatures nor cold ground temperatures like basil. Hope this helps and you have success. Keep asking questions if you need to. With lemon Verbena joy, Nancy

angel said...

we live in wi and my plant is in a pot on the back west facing deck and thriving. It's several feet tall. How much should I trim this back to? I usually just bring it in and leave it in a south facing sun room that gets quite cool. it drops it's leaves all over... I'd prefer to harvest and cut this back a bit. Wondering how far back I should trim it

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi Angel, You can cut it back by half and harvest all of those leaves. The others should fall when you bring it in. That is normal. I have also heard to leave it out until the first frost and that gets rid of bugs that might come in. Because when it comes in, the whiteflies and spider mites are the pests that you typically have to fight through the winter. You should start seeing new leaves in February once the days get longer. Check before watering, once a week to every ten days. Hope this helps you. With lemon verbena joy, Nancy

Augie said...

Hi, I got a lemon verbena plant shipped to me because I couldn't find seeds to grow one my own and when it came, it was in a baggy with heavy wet soil. The leaves and stem were dried/ brown and leaves were dried, shriveled and basically looked dead. I've been doing some research and I think it is in a dormant state. I'm not really sure because I'm a beginner and just started to learn about how to grow plants and veggies in my garden. I cut the dead leaves off and left a little bit right before the last leaf whorl (even though it's pretty much dried and dead) and planted it in a larger pot, added more potting soil and watered it a little bit and left it under lights. Am I doing this right? Will it revive my plant? How would I know if my plant is past the point of no return? Your thoughts and input is much appreciated!!

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi Augie, If you just received it, I would say it is dead because lemon verbenas usually start to releaf around March when the days become longer. I am not sure where you are located and what nursery you purchased your plant from. If you have had it for weeks, I would also say it has died. It should have shown signs of life by now. You are doing the correct things, it just sounds like it was dead before it was sent to you. If you have any other questions, I would be glad to answer them.

Augie said...

It was ordered and shipped May 15th and I received it today on the 22nd. I live in Northern California SF/Bay Area and was shipped from a local nursery that's about 2 hours away. Do you think I'd be able to "nurse" it back to life, or it's pretty much a done deal?

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi Augie, Your area has been in shelter in place for quite a few weeks. Do you know if this nursery was open during that time? I assume someone was behind the scenes taking care of the plants. If the plant has a nice white root structure, you may still have a viable plant. Can you get it outside for some natural light? If not, continue to do what you are doing. We have had extreme circumstances with the shelter in place, but this nursery should return your money if this plant doesn't start to grow soon.

Augie said...

We are going into our 10th week of SIP. I'm not really sure if there was anyone caring for it, but it was a fairly good size plant when it arrived, but dried and "dead". The roots are white and springs back, and not mushy or dry. Seems pretty good, but the entire stem is brown and when I bend it it won't snap, but slowly springs back into place with a small dent. I also tried the scratch test and it's not green at all. I did trim it again all the way to about 2 inches of the stem left and put it in natural sun light today for about an hour to two in full sun, but I think I might have killed it because today of all days was a pretty warm day. (Around high 70's with a nice little breeze). I requested for a refund, but haven't heard back from them yet. I just hope I can save this poor plant. I've been trying to find one at my local nurseries since January. Thank you for all your input.

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

I will hope you save it as well or get a refund. Always here if I can answer any more questions. Stay safe.

oakleafhydrangea said...

If you do get those invisible bugs that leave little webs her snd there, how do you get rid of them without introducing toxic pesticides?

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi oakleafhydrangea, There is a product called Safer's Soap that is effective for aphids and Whitefield on lemon verbena and other plants. Will not harm the plant nor you when directions are followed. Thanks for your question. Always here to answer your questions.