Lemon Verbena

Posted on Dec 13, 2012 in Plant This | 1 comment

Not lemon balm or lemon mint.  Lemon verbena.  This is a little woody shrub that only barely tolerates our chilly maritime winter, but if you can nurse it through one winter, you’re set.  I love lemon verbena because it adds a bright citrus sparkle to drinks without making it overly acidic the way lemon juice does.

You’re looking for Aloysia citrodora, and you can probably find a small one in a four-inch pot at the garden center or farmer’s market.  If you live inland and get warm summers, it’ll reach 6-8 feet after a couple of years. Give it some room or be prepared to cut it back every winter. It will also do fine in a large pot, and won’t object to whatever amount of clipping you impose upon it. Just be sure it gets plenty of sun, and be prepared to wrap it in a frost cloth, or even a sheet, in advance of a hard freeze its first winter. If it’s in a pot, just move it to a sheltered spot that doesn’t get hit by frost.

Muddle lemon verbena into any citrus-based cocktail, or cook up a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated to a boil so the sugar melts and allowed to cool) with the leaves.  It works as a garnish too, of course:  the clever bartender trick would be to wipe the rim of the glass with a leaf, and then drop a fresh, pretty leaf into the glass.

One Comment

  1. I totally cannot wait to get your “Drunken Botanist” book …. will tide me over til’ planting season arrives, to plant some of these plants to-be-enjoyed anew! Thanks for a fun idea! // H