Lemon Verbena plants for teas, puddings and potpourris

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Lemon verbena is the best known and most powerful of the lemon scented herbs. It grows into a reasonable sized shrub given the right conditions and is covered in long, lance shaped rough leaves that exude a fantastic lemony/citronella/cologne type smell. The flowers are tiny, insignificant and white, appearing in the summer with a small lilac tinge, but you buy the plant for its perfumed leaves. It can have a slightly untidy habit so it needs trimming into shape at the end of the season and a tiny prune in spring to get it going. If lemon verbena sounds too large or too lemony, we do also sell a gorgeous lemon thyme which adds zing to savoury and sweet dishes and lemon balm which makes a good but less citrusy tea.

The most fragrant herb for the garden

If you look after your lemon verbena it will last for years. You just need to make sure that it is protected from frost in winter, either by planting it somewhere extremely sheltered knowing you might have to envelop it in fleece at the forecast of frost for the first few years or you plant it in a large pot with a good bark, grit and peat mix of compost so that you can move it into a green house over winter. The leaves are easily harvested throughout the summer by breaking off a small branch and stripping the leaves from it. A few crushed in a mug of hot water make an enormously refreshing tea which also has mild sedative properties. The leaves can be used to flavour syrups to poach fruit, in sorbets and icecreams and can be dried for use in the winter. You can use the leaves to put into linen sachets to scent linen cupboards and to add to potpourris. If in the second year your lemon verbena looks like it is dead, be patient because it often takes a long time for it to summon up the courage to spurt into growth again. To encourage it, give it a little trim in spring with a spray of warm water. Trim again after flowering and feed it then too. Finally in autumn cut it back to shape, but not hard. Mulch over winter unless you are growing your verbena in a pot in which case you will need to move it in to a frost free place.

Features

  • Packs of 5 Plants
  • Height: 1-3 m
  • Spread: up to 2m
  • Colour: light green, lance-like foliage, tiny white flowers with a lilac tinge
  • Flowers: early summer
  • Uses: culinary, perfume
  • Taste: lemony/citronella like
  • Spacing: 1 m
  • Harvest: leaves through summer and autumn
  • Life: half-hardy, deciduous perennial

Stuff to know about Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena originated in Chile and was imported to Europe by the Spanish for use in the perfume industry. The essential oil is still used in many perfumes today. Its citronella type properties do indeed repel insects.

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Bareroot planting is best done between October and April
Bareroot and potted - what's the difference?

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