What is Lemon Verbena?
I absolutely love Lemon Verbena and wouldn’t be without it in my garden. Lemon Verbena, or Aloysia citrodora, is a deciduous shrub that can get up to 2.5 metres high.
I planted a small plant in my herb garden last summer and I thought I lost it over the very cold winter. It dropped all leaves and I was left with a few sticks poking out from the ground. I was thinking of pulling out the plant, it really looked dead, but then in March I saw some small green leaves coming from the stems.
As the weather improved, it kept on growing leaves and now it is a really handsome plant with lots of green fragrant leaves. The smell from the leaves is amazing! I don’t know if my description will do it justice, but it is a very lemony citrus smell, a bit like lemon sherbet. It’s no wonder it is widely used in perfumery.
Plant it next to a path or seating area so you can smell the amazing lemon scent every time you brush past it or when sitting down having your morning coffee.
How to care for a Lemon Verbena Plant
Lemon Verbena is a Mediterranean climate plant but fairly hardy in the south of England. It may need protection further north, but as long as the roots are kept fairly dry, it should withstand a cold winter. The roots like to have good drainage, so mix a bit of sand or grit into your planting compost to improve drainage. This will prevent them being waterlogged in winter and will help it survive the cold weather.
You could also mulch around the roots when the weather starts getting chilly and this will protect the plant too. This herb will lose all its leaves, but don’t worry, they will come back stronger and better next spring.
Keep pruning the plant to keep a nice bushy shape and also to harvest the leaves.
How can you use Lemon Verbena?
The easiest way to use Lemon Verbena is to make a tea with it. This is super easy, you just pick a handful of leaves, fill a tea-pot or mug with them and pour in water that’s just come off the boil. Let it infuse for 5 minutes or so and you’re done! You can also let it cool and pour over ice-cubes. Add a little sugar or honey to taste and enjoy the lemony freshness.
You can also make Lemon Verbena sugar, in the same way that you can infuse sugar with Lavender flowers, you can also use the Verbena leaves to give sugar a lovely lemony taste. Ideal for baking and desserts.
Add finely chopped Verbena leaves to fruit salad or blend them with olive oil, vinegar and salt to make a Verbena vinaigrette.
You can use the leaves to make essential oil by letting them infuse in a neutral carrier oil. Very useful when making Verbena soap or candles.
I could think of so many other uses, I can feel another blog post coming up!
How to dry Lemon Verbena to use in Tea
Pick a handful of Verbena leaves, wash them and pat dry with a clean tea-towel. Pace them in a clean and dry open container. Leave in the airing cupboard or somewhere dry and out of direct sunlight. When the leaves are completely dry, store them in a closed container. You can also cut Verbena stems, tie them together and hang them up to dry. When completely dry, run your fingers down the stems to release the leaves. You can then store them and use them for tea, cooking or even soap making.
What are the benefits of Lemon Verbena?
You’ll be very astonished to hear how many reasons there are to grow Lemon Verbena. And some of these benefits will surprise you! Lemon Verbena is said to help with:
- Congestion – Lemon Verbena helps loosening up mucus and phlegm as it is a natural expectorant. I’ll try drinking Lemon Verbena tea next time I have a cold. I might also see if it helps with my sinusitis! Will let you know if I noticed any improvement!
- Inflammation – Due to anti-inflammatory properties it could help ease joint pain or other types of inflammation. Would love to know if any Arthritis sufferers have any experience with this?
- Fever – Lemon Verbena is used traditionally in some cultures to treat fever.
- Weight loss – Lemon Verbena is thought to help feeling full up for longer after eating and studies showed that polyphenols lowered fat levels in human cells.
- Anxiety and stress – This plant is often used to calm and soothe, especially during times of stress and anxiety. It is also used to help treat insomnia due to its calming effects. A cup of Verbena tea before going to bed after a stressful day may help. I know I’ll be trying this and will update you.
- Insect repellant – This plant has been traditionally used as an insect repellant by hanging bunches of it in doorways. You could also burn Lemon Verbena candles and would get a similar effect as burning Citronella candles to repel mosquitoes. Lemon Verbena oil is also said to help against head lice.
- Indigestion – The most common use for Verbena leaves is to improve digestion and prevent candida infection. A cup of this tea after eating is said to help with heart-burn, bloating and regulates your appetite.
- Muscle fatigue after exercise – Studies have shown that Lemon Verbena reduced muscular damage after exercise by protecting white blood cells. It also reduced oxidative damage to fats and proteins.
Whilst Lemon Verbena tea is generally considered safe, too much, as with anything, could have negative effects. Always ask your Doctor first if you pregnant, breastfeeding or suffer from kidney problems. Whilst some of these claims are based on studies, not enough have been conducted to prove all of these properties.
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