Lemon Verbena

Common name: Lemon verbena

Scientific name: Aloysia triphylla

Family: Verbenaceae

Uses: Culinary and medicinal.A touch of lemon verbena can be added to fish, poultry, vegetable marinades, salad dressing, jams, puddings, and beverages. It also is used to make herbal teas. It can be grown in containers. Lemon verbena is said to have some medicinal qualities.

History: There is little history or legend recorded for lemon verbena. Native to South America, the plant was found in Argentina and Chili by Spanish explorers, who brought it to Europe in the seventeenth century. There it was grown for its aromatic oil.

Description: Lemon verbena is a deciduous woody shrub with a strong lemon fragrance. The light green leaves are lanceolate, with pointed margins that are slightly toothed or toothless and fringed with hairs. The short stalks are 2 to 4 inches long, 1Ž2 to 1 inch wide, and arranged in three or four whorls. The tiny lavender flowers are tubular with two equal lips, four stamens, and a toothed calyx in spikes or racemes from the leaf axis.

Plant type: Perennial

Hardiness: Hardiness zones 9 to 10.

Height: 5 to 10 feet

Width: varies with branching habit


Soil: rich, moist soil with a pH of 6.5

Pests: Spider mites and whiteflies


Cultivation: Cuttings should be taken in summer. Do not take cuttings too often, because this causes the main plant to wilt. Make sure that the donor plant is kept in the shade and is well watered. After cuttings are established, plant them outside once frost is unlikely. Pinch the tips back to keep the plant bushy. This shrub loses its leaves in the fall. With some protection, plants with deep roots may overwinter in colder climates.

Companion planting: No information available.

Propagation: Cuttings in summer.

Flowering period: August to September

Flower color:


Garden notes: In our garden, this shrub reached about 4 feet in height from a 3-inch seedling plant and flowered as well. The woody base and lemon scent make this an attractive plant for the right setting. It is somewhat irregular in growth with asymmetrical branching that adds to its appeal. We found that cutting throughout the season encouraged branching, but did not inhibit flowering, which occurred in late September.