Arbor Gate's Picks of the Month
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia citriodora)
The Arbor Gate’s monthly ‘Herb Picks’ for 2014 honor the memory of Madalene Hill and celebrate her pioneering work in bringing herbs to all the gardeners of the Gulf South (and beyond). Each month’s herb is closely associated with Madalene.
February 2014 marks the fifth anniversary of the dedication of the Madalene Hill Herb Garden at The Arbor Gate.
She was our teacher, mentor, and friend.
Lemon verbena is a shrubby plant that produces arching stems and narrow, pointed pale green leaves that are incredibly fragrant. It grows to a height of about 8 feet and needs full sun, a moist but not continuously wet situation, and a neutral, friable, porous soil for good drainage. It can be grown in a container as well. Lemon verbena is undoubtedly one of the very best of the many lemon-scented herbs. Although it loses its leaves during the cool season, dormancy is short-lived.
In Southern Herb Growing, Madalene noted, “Lemon verbena has been a popular Southern herb since the days when genteel ladies suffering from the ‘vapors’ mopped their brows with a decoction made from its leaves.” For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the Scarlet O’Hara herb!
Lemon Verbena is not an especially attractive addition to the landscape because of its woody appearance, and it can’t be improved much by pruning; in addition, it sheds its leaves at the first sign of cold weather (the dropped leaves can be gathered and used), but its fantastic aroma, whether the leaves are dried or fresh, make it a classic herb champion.