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.   


taylorsoutback 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