Lemon verbena is a favourite herb of summer and is the most "lemony" of all the lemon foliage herbs. Its lemon-scented leaves make the perfect perfume for warm sunny days and can be put to use in a myriad of ways. As a culinary herb, lemon verbena is perhaps best known for making a tasty tea, but it can also be a great addition to salads, marinades, desserts, jams ... we could go on (and in fact we do - see our recipes below).
Beyond the edible, Lemon Verbena can be used in perfumes (its original use when the Spanish brought it over from it's native home in South America), as well as massage oils, lotions, potpourris, and soap.
Lemon verbena is very much a summer herb, best propagated through cuttings, and will lose their leaves in the winter. So make hay (or lemon verbena tea) while the sun shines and get to grips with this cheerful lemony herb!
How to grow lemon verbena
Lemon verbena is a perennial herb best grown in a container that can be kept in a cool place (not freezing) through winter when it is dormant. It's best to start with a purchased plant our a stamp tip cutting. Make sure your pot is at least 12 inches in diameter - lemon verbena needs room to grow! Pot your lemon verbena in loose, well-drained high quality soil. Full sun allows for the best growth and tastiest leaves so place your pot in a sunny spot and watch your lemon verbena thrive. Don't panic when the leaves start to drop as the weather cools - lemon verbena goes dormant in winter but you'll have more to look forward to when it emerges from dormancy in the spring.
Did you know?
- Lemon verbena oil was used by the Victorians in their potpourri and perfumes (before the much cheaper lemongrass oil replaced it)
- In the movie Gone with the Wind, lemon verbena is cited as the favourite scent of Scarlett O'Hara's mother
- Lemon verbena has long been known for its soothing digestive qualities - try lemon verbena tea to relieve tummy niggles and indigestion
- One for you fitness buffs: research has shown that lemon verbena's high levels of antioxidants can actually decrease damage done to the muscles during a workout. Something to add to your next workout recovery shake?