As a child I grew up knowing the special scent of “Bromley Lemon” soap. The aroma of Lemon Scented Verbena reminds me of that same citrus fragrance.
Lemon Scented Verbena or, simply, Lemon Verbena, Aloysia triphylla (aka Aloysia citriodora), is also known as Lemon Beebrush. It is herbaceous, vigorous1, perennial shrub to about two metres. It originates from South America and was brought to Europe in the 17th century to Spain and Portugal.
The plant has dark stems carrying bright green, pointed leaves that have a very rough texture. We tried to extract the essential oils as an inset repellent but soon discovered those rough leaves tore the skin resulting in itchiness for him and a rash for me.
The flowers are small, dainty and mauve-white, and attract pollinating insects to the garden. 1
HOW TO GROW LEMON VERBENA
Lemon Verbena likes a warm situation with well-drained soil. It will grow in most areas of Australia but doesn’t tolerate frost. We live in the foothills of the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, NSW. Our plant is protected from frost but is deciduous in winter.
The plant can become quite straggly so we prune ours hard just as it begins to bud in late winter or early spring. As the plant begins to grow in spring, we tip prune to make it more bushy. The flowers can be cut and brought inside to fill the room with fragrance. Harvesting leaves regularly will help the plant stay busier and more compact.
You could try growing it in a pot near a frequently used door way or in an outdoor living area so that you brush against it. The scent is said to keep mosquitoes at bay. 2
Take cuttings in summer. They should have set roots in six to eight weeks and can then be potted into their own induvial pots for planting into the garden in Spring. 3
USES OF LEMON VERBENA
- leaves, fresh or dried, can be used to make a herbal, lemon-flavoured, tea
- (not recommended for use by pregnant or lactating women 4
- large amounts of lemon verbena may irritate the kidneys 5
- in cooking: desserts, soups, marinades, salad dressings and preserves
- as a replacement for lemon zest 6
- in drinks, particularly cocktails
- as an essential oil
- used in traditional medicine to treat respiratory conditions and digestive issues 4
- to aid in sleep quality (research is limited) 4
- as an insect repellent
- NOTE: rubbing lemon verbena on your skin may cause a rash or itchiness as we have both discovered!
FUN FINAL FACT
Lemon Verbena tea is a refreshing drink but it can also be combined with either ginger or mint, or both! 7
With so much going for it, why not plant one at your place?
- Flower Power, Lemon Verbena
- Joan Clark, Tips Bulletin, Plants that Repel Mosquitoes
- Jane Edmondson, Gardening Australia, Lemon Verbena
- Jillian Kabala, Healthline, 5 Potential Health Benefits of Lemon Verbena
- WebMD, Lemon Verbena – Uses, Side Effects, and More
- Ron Finley, How to Grow Lemon Verbena in Your Herb Garden
- Mudbrick Herb Cottage, Lemon Verbena