(Lippia citrodoro or Aloysia citrodora)
When brushing past the foliage of a Lemon Verbena shrub, you are surrounded by a most refreshing perfumed fragrance, redolent of lemons. The leaves are light green, thin and pointed with a slightly sticky feel and a wonderful citrus aroma.
This versatile plant which originates from Chile, could be used as tea, or as basis for an iced tea. The twigs and leaves can be put into a wardrobe to keep linen fresh and scented. It can be blended into cosmetics and the finely chopped up leaves can be used in desserts or with grilled fish. A sprig of lemon verbena give rice a lovely flavour and a twig can even be used to infuse custard or lemon curd.
Lemon Verbena is loved by all who know it. I grow it as a shrub in a tub, but it grows better directly planted in the light, well-drained soil. It grows well in sandy as well as alkaline soil - some sources say the poorer the soil, the stronger the plants. In colder areas (like on the South Island) it needs full sun. Plant in a sheltered position to protect from frost and winds. The roots can be mulch - some people cover the plant itself with hessian or frost cloth. In cold areas, the plant will lose its leaves in winter and should be sheltered from frost and wind. In spring, gardeners sometimes mistake the plant as being dead, but just give it time - in Christchurch the new shoots and new leaves often only arrive around October or November.
The plant benefits from being watered but the roots do not like to stay wet.
Leaves can be picked any time - cut off the flowering tips if you want the plant to become bushy and even more luscious. It responds well to a prune and is a great way to attract butterflies to your garden.
Supplied by Canterbury HERB Society
If you missed a Herb of the Month post catch up here. Monthly Meetings Avice Hill Craft Centre, 395 Memorial Ave.
Thursday 24 February 7pm
AGM and election of President, Secretary and Treasure. Please comply to COVID-19 regulations (mask and vax certificate). Keep an eye on Facebook for updates.