Lemon Verbena Fact Sheet

Lemon VerbenaAloysia triphilla – Tender Perennial

Lemon verbena is the queen of the lemon herbs.  It is a native of Argentina and Chile and is hardy only in Zones 8 and higher in the United States.  In its native countries, it reaches a height of six feet and higher.  Lemon verbena must be brought inside if it is going to survive the winter in this climate.  The plant will lose most of its leaves and you will think it died.  Water it each week, but do not leave it in standing water.  If it is kept in a window with a southern exposure, lemon verbena will break its dormancy in February.  You should wait until at least May 15th if you are in the north part of the United States and sometimes mine doesn't go in the ground until June 1.

Outside lemon verbena needs well-drained, sandy soil (I would amend clay soil with compost if possible.) and planted in full sun.  To propagate it, take stem cuttings from the top of the plant in mid-summer so that the cuttings can root before the days grow shorter.  You strip the bottom leaves and dip the cut stem in rooting hormone and place it in damp sand or potting soil.  Cover the cutting with a plastic bag to create a greenhouse effect.  Make sure the cutting stays moist, but not too wet and it should root in several weeks time.  Lemon verbena is grown for its leaves not its flowers.

Lemon verbena has more lemon flavor than lemon balm.  Use it to flavor desserts, fruit salads, teas and other sweet drinks.  In cooking, it is better to use fresh lemon verbena leaves.  The mid-rib of the leaf should be removed or ground up finely if using the fresh leaves in cooking.  When using the lemon verbena leaf dried, treat it as a bay leaf and use them whole so they can be removed or process them to a powder.  Dried lemon verbena leaves can be used as a base in teas, potpourris and sachets.

© 2010 Nancy Heraud