How to Plant Lemon Verbena

Written by kim joyce
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How to Plant Lemon Verbena
Plant tender herbs like lemon verbena in pots then bring them inside in winter. (flower pots and garden tools image by tim Elliott from

Lemon verbena is a tender but easy to grow perennial herb known for its sweet, lemony leaves, used to flavour drinks and jams and to lend long-lasting scent to sachets and potpourris. Like most herbs, lemon verbena needs well-drained soil with a neutral pH. The plant oils responsible for its strong lemony nature increase when plants get at least six to eight hours of full sun. Thoroughly protect lemon verbena from cold and frost in the winter. Grow it in a pot so it can be easily brought indoors in winter and grown in a south- or west-facing window.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Lemon verbena plant
  • Garden pot with at least one drainage hole
  • Drainage tray
  • Commercial potting mix (neutral pH)
  • Garden trowel
  • Garden gloves
  • Watering can

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  1. 1

    Fill the garden pot about two-third fulls with potting mix, or to within a few inches of its upper edge. Scoop out a planting hole in the centre the same depth as the lemon verbena’s root ball and slightly wider.

  2. 2

    Gently remove the lemon verbena plant from its original pot, retaining as much original soil as possible surrounding its roots. Place the plant in the centre of the hole. Fill the rest of the hole with potting mix. Place the pot in the drainage tray.

  3. 3

    Water the repotted lemon verbena thoroughly, settling and saturating the soil with water so that excess water fills the drainage tray. Empty the drainage tray.

  4. 4

    Place the newly transplanted lemon verbena in a partially shady spot for a few days to minimise transplant shock. Keep soil evenly moist.

  5. 5

    Acclimate the plant to its permanent sunny garden location gradually over the course of a week, starting with two hours of full sun for a couple of days, then 4 hours of sun, then 6 hours.

Tips and warnings

  • Regularly prune or pinch back your lemon verbena to promote vigorous growth. Harvesting regularly keeps most plants from getting leggy.
  • Harvest leaves early in the morning--but after dew has dried--when fragrance oils are strongest.
  • Herbs don’t like wet feet. Water thoroughly, stopping when water begins to run through the pot, then empty any extra water that accumulates in the saucer.
  • Because potted plants are vulnerable to heat, water regularly during summer and provide protection as needed from drying winds.

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