Growing Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena (Aloysia Triphylla) is an attractive, fragrant herb plant that can be grown indoors or outdoors and can be used in a variety of culinary and medicinal purposes. Also known as lemon beebrush or vervain, the sun-loving, compact-growing plant is easy to grow and well deserving of spot in an indoor or outdoor garden. Hardy in USDA growing zones 9-10, but can be grown in anywhere indoors on a warm sunny windowsill.

Growing Needs

Lemon verbena likes heat. A tropical outdoor location is a prime growing location for the plant. All southern U.S.states, Central and South America are regions in which the plant thrives. But cold climates can enjoy the lemony fragrance and flavor of this attractive herb plant by growing it indoors. Just provide the herb plant with plenty of direct sunlight and warmth, and it will thrive.

Growing Habits

The plant grows quickly in an upright manner and will reach an adult height of 3-6 feet and 2 feet in width. It can be pruned to any desired shape and height. If the plant does not receive enough sunlight, it will be spindly and leaves will not have the desired lemony flavor.

This plant also develops small, white flowers in the spring and shed its leaves in the winter.

Planting

Lemon verbena can be planted and grown in a container or in-ground. Use a container that is at least 12 inches deep and equally as wide, making sure the container has sufficient bottom drainage holes. Fill container with quality potting soil and plant lemon verbena in the center of the container. Container can placed outdoors in the summer time in direct sunlight and brought indoors in the fall prior to the first frost.

When planting outdoors, work 2 inches of organic matter into the soil and space plants 2 feet apart.

After Care

Keep soil moist and plant warm at all times. Prune in early spring if desired. The plant rarely has pests or disease problems.

Harvest leaves anytime, but wear gloves as the oils from the plant can cause a sensitivity to sunlight.

Dice leaves and sprinkle on top of seafood or other dishes for a touch of fresh lemon flavor. Add a leaf to fresh brewed tea or steep leaves in hot water to release a lemony air freshening aroma.

The oil in lemon verbena aids in digestion and eases stress.

Simple Container Garden Tips

Here are several tips for successful container garden…

Soil
container garden
A car as a container garden.

Start with good soil containing a mixture of perlite, peat, and compost. Use different particle sizes to keep the soil from compacting over time. Plant roots need air as much as they need water. Varied particle size helps to drain excess water. Container garden soil compacts and turns into hard mass under the pressure of regular watering and drying process. And when it does, plant roots stop growing.  Hard, compacted soils do not grow very good plants. Add the potting soil to the compost bin at the end of the year. Compost increases air spaces and gives plants a boost in healthy nutrition.

Fertilizer

A container garden needs feeding often. Nitrogen, the building block of plant growth, come in several forms and not all can be readily taken up by plants. Urea nitrogen is the cheapest and most widely available form, but plants can not take it up in this form. Nitrogen is made available to plants through the process of nitrification. Phosphorus and potassium are also needed, but in much less quantity. Excessive amounts of these two elements can lock up trace elements, such as calcium and magnesium. Trace elements are also essential to plant health.

Water

Thoroughly water all containers until water seeps from the bottom holes. Under-watering and over-watering can lead to root development problems, poor flowering and death of the plant.