The Lemon Verbena Plant: How to Grow, Harvest and Preserve

Sep 14, 2022
How to Grow Harvest and Use Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena is a  refreshingly-scented herb that adds a pleasant, fragrant zing of lemon to your garden. It's also an easy-to-grow plant with leaves that are perfect for cultivating to make a healthy and great-tasting tea. 

To keep the uplifting freshness of lemons at your fingertips (and in your cups!), try planting a lemon verbena plant in your garden! 

Lemon verbena is a satisfying addition to any garden and perfect for beginner growers and those with more experienced green thumbs. Keep reading for everything you need to know to grow a lemon verbena plant and tips on how to harvest and preserve its leaves. 




What Is Lemon Verbena?

Lemon verbena is a flowering, perennial shrub with glossy, bright green leaves. The plant can grow 2 to 3 feet tall in pots and, under the right circumstances, can grow 9 or 10 feet when planted into the ground. In climate zones 9 and 10, the lemon verbena plant can be grown year-round and can be planted as an annual in colder climate zones. 

Is Lemon Verbena Different Than Lemon Balm?

Yes, lemon verbena is a different plant from lemon balm. They both have a lemon flavor, but the lemon verbena offers a more intense, pungent, lemon flavor. 



What Is Lemon Verbena Tea Good For?

A lemon verbena tea is a bright-tasting tea with a burst of zingy lemon flavor. It is also known to have therapeutic benefits. 

Lemon verbena tea has been used for hundreds of years to treat many different ailments. It is commonly used for digestive disorders such as diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion. It may also help with insomnia and other sleep disorders, colds, and some skin conditions.

It has also proven to be rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that the strong antioxidant power of lemon verbena extracts could help to prevent certain health problems. 





How to Grow Lemon Verbena

Growing lemon verbena is not difficult, especially if you purchase a small plant from a plant nursery or garden store. Using a lemon verbena seed is more complicated because it's challenging to start the growth and it is slow growing at the beginning.

If you follow the recommended garden growing conditions for your lemon verbena, you will have a glorious plant in no time! 

Planting a Lemon Verbena Plant

For a healthy lemon verbena plant, be sure to plant it after the last spring frost. If you are planting more than one lemon verbena, be sure to place them 12 to 18 inches apart. Containers at least 12" wide are ideal options as well. 


The warmth of the sun does wonders for the lemon verbena plant—the more the better! Make sure it is placed or planted in a full-sun area of your yard. 

Soil and Fertilizer

The lemon verbena does best in loose soil, rich in organic matter and with excellent drainage. Wet roots are not good for a lemon verbena plant. The plant benefits greatly from fertilizer from spring to fall when the plant is actively growing. 


It's important to keep the soil surface moist, but not over-saturated. The roots of the lemon verbena do not like to stay wet. 


In growing zones 9 and 10, the lemon verbena can stay outside in the winter, providing the temperatures remain above freezing. If temperatures dip, you can bring your plant indoors or cover it with a frost cloth. 

Winter Preparation

As the temperatures drop, the lemon verbena will lose its leaves. Ideally, to stimulate new growth, only cut the plant back in the spring. 



How to Harvest Lemon Verbena

The lemon verbena leaves can be harvested as you need them, or all at once when the plant is full of lush foliage. 

The best way to harvest them is to snip off the branches in the morning hours, when the essential oils are at their peak. Remove them from the branches, as you would with rosemary and thyme, instead of removing individual leaves.

Preserving and Dehydrating Lemon Verbena

Once you've collected your lemon verbena leaves, you can use them fresh or dried. If you dry them, there are several methods you could use. 

  • Tie the leaves in a bundle and hang upside down until dry
  • Microwave for 1.5 to 3 minutes until leaves are dry and brittle
  • Leave in the fridge, uncovered, until dry
  • Place in oven on low heat for several hours until dry
  • Dry them in a dehydrator



Using a Dehydrator

One of the best ways to preserve your lemon verbena leaves is to use a dehydrator. It allows you to control the temperature and drying time of the leaves. It is a great method to preserve the flavor and medicinal properties of the lemon verbena leaves. 

Here's how:

  1. Preheat the dehydrator temperature between 95F and 115F
  2. Dab the leaves to remove as much moisture as possible
  3. Lay the herbs on dehydrator trays in a single layer
  4. Remove larger leaves from their stems; smaller ones can stay on
  5. Check your herbs every hour until dry—this process could take 1-4 hours
  6. Herbs are dry when the leaves crumble and stems break upon bending
  7. Allow leaves to cool before storing to avoid any condensation



Making Lemon Verbena Tea

One of the greatest ways to use dried lemon verbena is to make a healthy and satisfying tea. Here are the steps:

  • Use 1 tsp of dried and crumbled lemon verbena leaves for every cup of boiling water
  • Place the leaves in a tea strainer or teapot
  • Pour boiling water over leaves
  • Cover and let steep for 3 minutes or leave longer if stronger tea is desired
  • Enjoy a refreshing, bright-tasting cup of lemon verbena tea! 



The Joys of the Lemon Verbena Plant

The lemon verbena plant is easy to grow and a great addition to every garden. The leaves taste great when added to baked and cooked meals, and are especially delicious (and healthy!) as a tea. Don't forget that pungent lemon flavor that is great in all these dishes but also it's medicinal effects on the digestive system!

If you loved learning about lemon verbena, it's uses as well as how to harvest and use it make sure to check out our Communi-tea  at Grow Create Sip! We bring together people with a shared passion for growing their herbal knowledge. Along with a library of over 60 different herbs and articles with a deeper dive than this one today. Not to mention our tea blending course that is also there with over 6 hours of video instruction. Don't miss out on this fun group of budding herbalists!


But I'd love to know, do you already grow lemon verbena or are you looking to plant some and how will you (or do you) use it now? Let me know in the comment section down below, I can't wait to hear from you!


Read about Growing & Harvesting other Herbs

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