The Lemon Verbena plant is a herbaceous perennial member of the Verbenaceae family.
The botanical name is Aloysia citriodora (kom-OH-sum sit-ree-oh-DOR-uh). Verbena’s hail from Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile, South America.
In tropical settings, these plants are evergreen. In cooler climates, they are usually grown as annuals or kept indoors during the winter. If overwintered, the plant will lose its leaves.
The plants’ genus name, Aloysia, is in honor of the 17th Century Spanish Princess, Luisa of Parma. The plant is sometimes commonly known as Herb Luisa. The specific epithet, citriodora, refers to the lemon scent of the plant.
It also goes by the common name Lemon Beebrush
Aloysia Citrodora – Lemon Verbena Care
Size & Growth
Lemon Verbena in its natural, tropical setting, grows to a height of between 10’ and 15’ feet high. Away from the tropics, expect a height of between 2’ and 4’ feet with an equal spread.
The long, lance-shaped green lemon verbena leaves are fragrant and lemony. The shiny green leaves are about 3” to 4” inches long. The leaves have a very strong taste and the scent of lemon, even without crushing or disturbance.
The leaves have many medicinal and culinary uses. Their verbena lemon scent and flavor is strongest during the plants’ bloom time.
Flowering & Fragrance
The Verbena plant produces showy, fragrant white (sometimes pale lilac) flowers. Bloom time is from mid-summer through early autumn. If kept in a container, Lemon Verbena may not produce flowers.
The lemon-scented flowers have many culinary and medicinal uses. They are also used to make fragrances, personal care products, potpourri, and the like.
Light & Temperature
Lemon Verbena likes full sun and very warm temperatures. This plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 10.
Temperatures below 40° degrees Fahrenheit can trigger leaf drop.
It can do well as a container plant overwintered in a bright, cool indoor location in a well drained potting mix.
Watering & Feeding
Lemon Verbena has medium water requirements. Reduce watering during the winter months.
Soil & Transplanting
The plant does best in a well-draining, fertile, moist, light potting soil. It likes pH levels ranging from 5.5 through 7.5.
Grooming & Maintenance
Regular, light pruning will promote a denser, more shrubby form, and better branching.
Propagation Of Aloysia – Lemon Verbena
Lemon verbena plants propagate easily from seeds or through or stem cuttings.
Lemon Verbena Pests or Diseases
When kept outdoors, the strongly scented plant has few enemies. If kept indoors, it may be subject to the same sorts of pests that plague many houseplants, such as:
- Spider Mites
Is The Lemon Verbena Considered Toxic or Poisonous?
This edible, medicinal plant is not toxic. But, treat verbena with respect and care. Don’t consider it entirely non-toxic as it does have genuine medicinal uses and values. Keep it out of the reach of kids and pets and exercise discretion when using it in cooking.
Is The Lemon Verbena Considered Invasive?
The lemon verbena is native to South America where it grows vigorously. It is just as happy to grow vigorously in any other tropical warm setting.
When Lemon Verbena escapes from cultivation it spreads and grows both from seeds and vegetatively. For this reason, South Africa and Cuba list it as being invasive.
It has naturalized in a wide variety of tropical regions worldwide. The Global Compendium of Weeds list it as being invasive. [source]
Suggested Aloysia Citrodora – Lemon Verbena Uses
Lemon Verbena makes a pretty potted plant. It’s a good addition to a fragrance garden or an herb garden and adds pleasant fragrance near gates, doorways, and walkways.
Keep it near your kitchen garden to harvest the lemon verbena leaves for use in cooking, folk medicine (lemon verbena tea), and making potpourris.