Lemon Verbena in My Garden

by Cynthia

One of my all time favorite herbs is Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla). It remains my favorite after all these years because of its intoxicating scent. Once you smell lemon verbena you will never forget it. To describe its scent is rather hard. For sure it is lemony but not so sweetly lemony. Its smell is rather deep and complex.

I have been growing it for years in containers and when I gardened in Southern California it was quite easy to care for as it overwinters just fine outdoors there. Up here in the Pacific Northwest where I now reside it is another story. To leave my container grown lemon verbena outdoors during the winter here would spell certain death.

To combat this I bring my lemon verbena in when the fall temperatures begin to drop lower and lower. The first year I did this I thought my little plant was a goner as it looked completely dead. Lemon verbena does drop its leaves during the winter so that was normal behavior for it but I had convinced myself that I had killed it indoors. Sadly, I placed it in our garage for the remainder of the winter.

Come spring time I placed what I feared to be a dead plant outside and let it receive all the rain water it wanted. Within a few weeks it began to show signs of life. Amazingly this lemon verbena survived its long winter break in the garage. I was completely shocked but happy as can be that I did not lose my beloved lemon verbena. I would not recommend overwintering lemon verbena in a garage even though mine did survive. Instead I would recommend placing it in a brightly lit room and water only sparingly. When all danger of frost is over gradually begin placing the potted lemon verbena back outside.

Lemon Verbena in the Home

Lemon verbena leaves are very easy to dry as they tend to do so rather quickly. To dry, the braches can be hung upside down or the leaves can be striped off the plant and placed on a screen. My method for drying them is the same method I use for drying chamomile.

The dried lemon verbena leaves can then be made into tea. Below are two recipes to try that I enjoy.

Straight Up Lemon Verbena Tea

3 cups water, ½ cup dried lemon verbena leaves; pour boiling water over leaves. Steep 10-20 minutes according to taste. Serves 3

Lavender Lemon Verbena Tea

This is a great relaxing tea to have in the evening.

Mix together 1 cup dried lemon verbena leaves with 3 tablespoons dried lavender buds.

Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoon of tea mixture and allow to steep 10-20 minutes according to taste. Makes one serving

Fresh lemon verbena leaves can also be used to make tea. To use fresh leaves you will want to double the amount of leaves used. Fresh lemon verbena leaves are my favorite for making herbal sun teas. You can find the instructions for that here.

In the future I will include more recipes for using lemon verbena. One thing to keep in mind when growing this wonderful herb is to make sure you frequently pinch back the tips. This keeps the lemon verbena nice and bushy as they do have a tendency to get scraggly if you don’t. Continuous harvesting of the leaves for tea brewing makes this not a problem! :-)

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