Growing Lemon Verbena Herb Plants in Northeast Florida Gardens
Lemon Verbena / Aloysia triphylla For Northeast Florida Gardening Origins:
Lemon verbena may not be one of the prettiest plants in the garden, but one whiff of its leaves and you’ll know why it’s hard to keep these little gems in stock here at the nursery. They are natives of South America, and do well in the hot humid climates of Northeast Florida.
Growing Season for Lemon Verbena Herb Plants in Northeast Florida:
Lemon Verbena is a reliable perennial herb plant and can be planted any time of the year in the Northeast Florida garden. The deciduous shrub will loose all of its leaves for the winter season, but be back full of leaves the following spring.
Sun Exposure for Lemon Verbena / Aloysia triphylla in Northeast Florida:
Plant Lemon Verbena in a part shade / part sun exposure, for best results in out Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida area landscapes.
Soil Preference for Lemon Verbena / Aloysia triphylla:
Plant lemon verbena in well composted soils that are moist but not consistently wet.
Amend your planting site generously with compost when installing your new lemon verbena plants. Add fresh compost each year, under the plant’s foliage, in the early spring.
Water and Fertilizer Requirements of Lemon Verbena Herb Plants:
Newly planted seeds and plants will require watering every day until the set of mature leaves emerges, then taper back to three times a week, then twice a week for in-ground plants, and three to four times a week for potted containers.
In general herbs require little in the way of fertilizer. To much fertilizer with herbs can be worse than not enough. Over fertiliztion can lead to lush green growth with a reduced quantity of volatile oils in the leaves. Reduced oils, means reduced flavor and aroma in your herbs.
However, in Florida’s sandy soils you may find your plants in some need of som help, particularly if compost wasnt added to the soil when planting. Try fertilizing with a mixture of fish emulsions and seaweed at one ounce of each per gallon of water. Put into a sprayer and water every other week or as needed with the mixed solution.
If you find your plant struggling at any point, make up a batch of compost tea and water generously. Repeat as needed weekly or biweekly.
Size of Lemon Verbena When Mature:
Lemon Verbena plants will grow to 6-10 ft high and 4-6 ft wide.
Sowing Lemon Verbena Seeds into Northeast Florida Soils:
Plants are propagated vegetatively, stem tip cuttings will root easily in moist soils within just a few weeks time. Put a few stem tip cuttings into well draining soil in a clay pot with a saucer. Water well and cover with a plastic sandwich bag or plastic wrap, making sure the plastic is not touching the foliage of the plants. Fill the saucer with water as needed and make sure the soil medium doesn’t dry out. Keep the pot outside in the shade or in a window or near a light source inside. Check plants for roots in two to three weeks and transplant your new plants into the garden when well rooted.
Want another way? Place a stem cutting with lower leaves removed into a large jar, fill the bottom of the jar with water, keeping the cutting leaves above the water line. Replace the water in the jar every day, to keep it fresh, your lemon verbena stem will begin to root out at the base within a few weeks. Once roots develop, plant into a container or the garden and water every day for two to three weeks while your plants root system continues to develop.
Harvesting Your Lemon Verbena in the Northeast Florida Landscape:
Lemon Verbena can be harvested fresh any time of the year here in our Jacksonville and St. Augustine area gardens. Simply trim back foliage to as much as one third of the plants height, with lemon verbena you will rarely need to harvest that much at any given time, but you may want to consider trimming the plant at least once in spring and again in summer to keep it nice and full, lemon verbena can quickly get leggy or unsightly if not trimmed back often.
Lemon Verbena can be used fresh or dried, fresh it has a strong minty citrus scent, when the leaves are dried the flavor is much more subtle. The flavor of lemon verbena is a little hard to describe, some say it has a licorice – like lemony flavor.
To make a tea stuff a cup half full with lemon verbena leaves and pour hot, near boiling water over it and let it sit. It helps to roll or crush the leaves a bit in your hand before putting them in the water. Or to make a larger batch, fill a glass container with a lid, half full of leaves and fill with water, sit out in the sun for a few hours for a delicious lemony treat.
Try this tip from Better Homes and Gardens… Fill a container with sugar and lemon verbena leaves, leave overnight and remove the leaves from the sugar the next day, use this lemon sugar in your favorite cookie or cake recipe for a lemony twist to a classic favorite. Try lemon sugar cookies, or lemon pound cake! Delicious!
Blooms of Lemon Verbena:
Lemon verbena blooms in early summer to fall, very delicate whitish pink or lilac colored flowers appear atop the foliage. Trim and bring indoors for a lemony scented bouquet!