Lemon verbena is a perennial herb with slender, light green leaves and small white flowers. It can grow to waist height in open ground and is often planted in containers - which helps to check its growth. It is an attractive plant and it looks good combined with a range of other herbs and food plants. The foliage is most lush in the warm summer months when its sweet lemony flavour and fragrance are at their strongest. It is used to make a delicious and refreshing herbal tea and the leaves are also tied into bundles and thrown into a hot bath for a relaxing soak. Lemon verbena is used to add lemony bite to chicken and fish dishes and can be chopped fresh into melted butter as a tangy compliment to asparagus. When cooked, its sweet lemony fragrance intensifies and become more lemony.
Companions Basil, oregano.
Quantity You are unlikely to need more than one or two plants.
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Plant cuttings and seedlings from spring into summer.
Lemon verbena likes a sunny sheltered spot in the garden. It can be grown in containers.
Lemon verbena needs a fertile, free-draining soil.
Best to grow Lemon verbena from cuttings or as a shop bought seedling. If planting in a container, choose something on the larger side – a half wine barrel will do the job.
Water cuttings and young seedlings in dry periods. Mulch to retain moisture. Once they are established and starting to grow strongly you shouldn’t need to continue with watering unless weather is persistently dry and your soil dries out. Plants can benefit from a monthly feed with diluted worm juice or liquid seaweed during summer.
Pick leaves as and when you need them. Generally only a few leaves are needed at any one time. Foliage dries very well and can be stored in jars or paper bags. A few wrinkled leaves in a cup of boiling water will re-hydrate to almost perfect fragrant, fresh form.
Trim plants back in spring and again in late summer. This should help to produce bushy, healthy foliage. Plants naturally thin out during winter months and look pretty sad – some people even rip them out taking them for dead. However collect up the fallen leaves and store for winter, plants will produce lush new leaves come November time. You can prune Lemon verbena quite hard every now and again to keep it to a compact size and shape.