I’ve seen Lemon Verbena at the market and supermarket. But the herb, sold loose or bagged, was not what I was looking for. I had little need for the dried leaves; what I wanted was a potted herb.
I searched high and low but it eluded me. I scoured the internet for seeds but if anything, that turned out to be a bigger challenge.
When I finally found the lemon verbena, I was on holiday, thousands of miles from home. If it had been possible to cart one home, I would have done so.
I was transfixed. The lemon verbena shrubs were as tall as I am and were flowering to boot.
I helped myself to a sprig or two of the spent blooms. Surely there would be seeds within the calyxes? But there was none – what a letdown.
a full-grown lemon verbena in Melbourne
flowering lemon verbena in Ballarat
Before I left for home, I visited a friend. Lo and behold, there was a lemon verbena in her yard! Pat, bless her heart, offered to make me a cup of the herbal tea. Snip, snip, snip. She tore the leaves and stuffed them into a tea strainer. Minutes later, this contented gardener sipped a precious cup of freshly steeped lemon verbena tea.
Yet, there would be no lemon verbena plant for me – not for a long while.
I tried numerous cuttings, some of which grew and then died. I just couldn’t get it right. Other gardening friends who have tried growing this pernickety plant threw in the towel. “It’s not worth the trouble,” they said.
I may take their advice one day since there are other herbs with a more intense lemon scent. The lemon verbena is a punishing herb if your clime isn’t suitable for it.
Mine seems to be doing okay … for now. I am just hoping it can grow into a more sizable plant without dying prematurely.
Will it ever bloom? I hope it does; if only to try my hand at pollinating it although I know now that lemon verbena flowers are sterile after all.
Care and propagation: Dappled to full sun; well drained soil, water moderately. Propagate using cuttings.