lemon verbena, lemon beebrush, sweet-scented verbena, lemon-scented verbena, lemon tree, herb Louisa, verbena oil plant
Shrub in the Verbenaceae family, native to South America, evergreen in tropical areas, but deciduous everywhere else. Lance-shaped, mid green leaves with a somewhat rough upper surface, about 8 cm long, arranged in whorls of three. Foliage emits a strong lemon scent. Panicles with tiny white or lilac flowers in summer.
Synonyms: Aloysia citriodora, Aloysia triphylla, Lippia citr(i)odora, Lippia triphylla, Verbena triphylla.
Prefers a sheltered, sunny position in free-draining soil. Is also happy in a partially shaded spot, especially in areas with hot summers. The plant tends to send out long shoots, in particular when not receiving all day sun, but it responds well to regular trimming. In the dormant season it can be pruned hard if required. Fertilise regularly during the growing season. Quite drought-tolerant once established. Caterpillars, spider mites and whiteflies like to feed on the foliage.Tolerates light to moderate frosts (zone 8). In colder climates, grow Aloysia citrodora in a pot, and overwinter indoors. It will most likely loose all leaves after the move, but this is normal. When grown outside, the leaves will drop in response to cold temperatures or stress. Avoid overwatering, in particular when the plant is dormant.
Not just a pretty plant, but very useful too. Leaves are used to make herbal teas. They can also be added to jams, puddings, fish and chicken dishes, salads, teas and other drinks to impart a lemon flavour. Essential oil extracted from the foliage is used in perfumery. Dried leaves add a lovely fresh scent to potpourries. Plant Aloysia citrodora where you can appreciate the gorgeous fragrance. You can train it to a single leader, much like a topiary subject.
Type of plantShrub - Deciduous
Size2 to 3 m tall
Landscape Usefragrant foliage, flower display, topiary, herb gardens, sheltered coastal gardens, pot plant, culinary, herb, cut flower
- Temperature: Half hardy
- Light: Medium High
- Moisture: Low Medium
- Soil: Light Medium
- Wind tolerance: Average
- Coastal tolerance: High