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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Lemon Verbena

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Lemon verbena is a semi-tropical plant. Its leaves have an intensely lemony fragrance and flavor. Leaves can be used in herbal teas and added to fruit salads, vegetables, and desserts. Dried leaves will remain fragrant for several years. Add a touch of lemon verbena to foods, then taste, then add more if needed—use a light touch with lemon verbena.

Here is your complete guide to growing lemon verbena.

Where to plant lemon verbena

  • Best location: Grow lemon verbena in full sun.
  • Soil preparation: Lemon verbena grows best in well-drained humus-rich soil. Add aged compost to the planting area before planting and turn the soil to 12 inches deep. Lemon verbena prefers a soil pH of 6.5.

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Lemon verbena growing in pots
Lemon verbena growing in pots

When to plant lemon verbena

  • Seed starting indoors: It is very difficult to start lemon verbena from seed. Grow lemon verbena from tip cuttings rooted indoors in spring.
  • Transplanting: Transplant rooted cuttings outdoors after the weather has warmed in early summer.
  • Outdoor planting time: Plant dormant roots outdoors in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Start lemon verbena from root cuttings in midsummer to late summer; start 4 to 6-inch cuttings in a mix of aged compost, pulverized topsoil, and perlite.

How to plant lemon verbena

  • Planting depth: Plant dormant roots and root cuttings 1 inch deep.
  • Spacing: Space plants 12 to 15 inches apart; lemon verbena forms large clumps.
  • How much to plant: Grow one plant for culinary use.

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Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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