Lemon Verbena (Leptospermum scoparium) is one of the most popular herbs used in herbalism. It’s a member of the mint family, which includes such well known herbs as spearmint and marjoram. The leaves are commonly dried or crushed into a powder and then sprinkled over food or brewed into tea.
The herb grows wild in warm climates, but it is not native to North America. It was introduced via European settlers who brought the plant with them when they settled here.
They called it “lemon verbena” because its scent was so pleasant. Today, the herb is grown commercially throughout much of the world and is available at many health food stores and garden centers.
How To Grow Lemon Verbena Herb In Your Garden?
Growing lemon verbena is easy. You just need to have access to fresh, clean water and a sunny location where the soil temperature will stay between 70°F and 80°F year round. If you live in an area with cold winters, you may want to consider growing it indoors during those months.
If your climate doesn’t allow for winter protection, you’ll probably get enough sun anyway. Just make sure you keep the soil evenly moist and don’t let it dry out.
In a colder climate, you can grow it in a container that you can bring in from the elements when the weather gets cold.
Grow With Lemon Balm
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is another plant that tastes good and has soothing effects on the body. Native to the northern hemisphere, this plant can be a weed in some areas of the world.
It grows to about 2 feet tall and has the same height and spread as lemon verbena.
Soil and Sunlight Requirements: Plant these herbs in full sun to partial shade. The soil should drain water well, be fertile and have a pH between 6.5 and 7.5.
Water Requirements: Keep the soil evenly moist when growing them for best results.
When To Plant: Start seeds indoors 8 weeks before last frost or direct-sow after last frost. Transplant seedlings or thin to 12 inches apart.
How To Grow Lemon Verbena Herb From Seeds
Lemon verbena is a subtropical plant that is perennial only in the warmest areas of the United States. It can be grown as annuals in colder climates, but it takes at least 3 years to produce flowers and leaves large enough for culinary use.
Lemon balm is a hardy herb that can survive winters and even thrive if protected from extreme cold.
These herbs are frost tender, so start the seeds inside 8 weeks before the last frost. Sow the seeds on the surface of a sterile seed-starting mix and barely cover them.
Keep the soil moist but not wet.
Lemon verbena grows to be 2 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Plant it in a large container with its own room to spread out or give it a spot in the garden with at least that much space around it.
Lemon balm grows to be 2 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Give it a spot in the garden with at least that much space around it.
Both of these herbs are tolerant of a wide range of soil types but prefer well-drained, rich soil. They need full sun but will tolerate some afternoon shade in areas that experience extreme summers.
Water them regularly to establish the plants then water them only when the soil has dried out. You may need to water them more often in dry spells.
Once they are growing well, fertilize them every three weeks throughout the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. In late summer, stop fertilizing and cut back on watering to induce a fall dormancy.
Stop watering completely during this time and resume normal care in early spring.
Many lemons have oils in their skins that can make your hands slippery when you handle them. This oil is readily transmitted to your hands even through simple handling.
Always wear gloves when you handle lemons and other citrus fruits if you want to avoid this problem.
Lemon balm leaves are used in cooking, especially in meat dishes like lamb, chicken, and fish, but they are also great with eggs, vegetables, and in salads. The leaves have a light mint flavor that is slightly sweet.
Dried or fresh leaves can be used.
Lemon balm tea is often used to help you relax. It is also used to aid digestion, although most people use it as a calming tonic.
To make tea, add 1-2 teaspoons of dried or fresh leaves to 8oz of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes.
Even though lemons are more acidic than the other herbs, using fresh lemons and their juice is still a good idea in almost all cases.
An old wives tale suggests that if you rub a cut lemon over aluminum it will prevent the metal from ever rusting. Several experiments have failed to support this claim.
In fact, some tests even show that the acid in the lemon juice may actually make it more likely for your aluminum to rust because the juice acts as a solvent and allows the aluminum molecules to flow more freely.
If you leave a cut lemon on your kitchen counter it may completely turn brown, even when kept in a closed container and in a cool location. This does not mean it’s no longer good to use, though.
It simply means that it’s another effect of the acid in the lemon reacting with the air, much like how an apple turns brown when you cut it open and leave it exposed to air.
Lemon balm grows wild throughout most of Europe and parts of Asia.
When the leaves and stems of lemon balm are dried, they have a scent that is very similar to mint. In fact, some people believe that it is an improved version of mint because it has a more pleasant flavor and fragrance.
It is not known exactly why this is, since it is a species of Melissa rather than Mentha. It could be due to the environment in which it grows or simply the genetics of this particular species.
There is another species of lemon balm that grows in North America, Melissa officianalis. Native Americans used it medicinally but it did not gain popularity with European settlers.
It contains a compound called citrol which gives it a less pleasant aroma and a bitter taste.
Lemons are believed to have originated in southeast Asia. They were first cultivated in China and then spread throughout the Mediterranean region.
By the 17th century, they had become common in Europe.
The name lemon was given to the fruit because of its resemblance to the color of the scales of a fish called a “lemon fish”. The fruit was introduced to the Americas by ship in the 1600’s.
It became very popular in North America because it helped prevent scurvy, a condition that was often fatal when it occurred among sailors who spent months on ships without access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you have fresh lemon balm and need it dried quickly, spread it out in the sun. You can also dry it in a microwave.
Place a few cups of leaves in a container, leave the container uncovered (or cover it with a paper towel), and zap it on high for about one minute. Stir it and zap in in again for 40 seconds. Keep doing this until most of the moisture is gone. Store in an airtight container.
There is no evidence that lemon balm will prevent hiccups.
If you are making a bath, 1 or 2 cups of dried lemon balm should be sufficient. If you are making a pot of tea, use 2 teaspoons of dried leaves or 4 teaspoons of fresh leaves per cup of tea.
Lemon balm is typically taken by brewing it as a tea, either by itself or in combination with other herbs such as chamomile. The tea tastes best when sweetened and flavored.
You can also use the dried leaves to create an essential oil. Use 2 ounces of leaves for every ounce of carrier oil. Place the leaves in a glass container and cover them with the warm carrier oil. Cap it and let it sit in a cool location overnight so that the oil can absorb the properties of the leaves. Strain out the leaf pieces, and bottle the oil. It should then be stored in the refrigerator, where it should last about one year.
If you are using dried leaves, use about 1 teaspoon per cup of boiling water. Pour into a teacup, cover, and steep for 5 to 7 minutes.
Drink 2 to 3 cups per day.
If you are using fresh leaves (which should be from plants that have not been exposed to pesticides), wash and thoroughly pat dry. Freeze the leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
Once they are frozen, place them in a freezer bag. Defrost as much as you need at a time to make tea. To brew the tea, use 1/2 cup of leaves per 2 cups of water. Pour the water over the tea and steep for 10 minutes. You can sweeten and/or flavor your tea as desired.
While lemon balm is non-toxic, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that pregnant women should not consume it. If you are taking any medications or have a health condition, talk to your doctor before using this herb.
Lemon balm is GRAS, which means that it is “generally regarded as safe.”
Lemon balm reduces stress and anxiety and can help you sleep. It may also help with headaches, digestive issues, nervousness, and restlessness.
Some studies have found that it lowers high blood pressure (hypertension).
Lemon balm contains a compound called citronellal that gives the plant its lemon smell. It also contains volatile oils (including citral and perillyl alcohol), flavonoids, and tannins.
Lemon balm is in the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is also known as melissa, bee balm, and honey plant.
It grows to be about 2 to 3 feet tall and has a hairy stem. The leaves are opposite from one another and are 2 to 4 inches long. They are also oval-shaped with serrated edges. The flowers are white or purple. The bee balm plant blooms from midsummer to early fall.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial herb that grows best in well-drained, moist soil in part shade. It can adapt to survive in full sun, but the leaves will scorch if you don’t give it some shade during the summer months.
It grows in all 50 states.
Our high-quality Lemon Balm Extract is thoroughly tested by independent labs for the absence of standard pesticides and toxic greens and is certified organic.
Do not use if cap seal is broken. Keep out of the reach of children.
If taking medication, consult your doctor before using this product.
Food grade dried lemon balm leaves are available here . They are used to make a relaxing, non-alcoholic herbal tea that helps you unwind after a long day.
This tea is non-addictive and contains no sugars or additives. It is safe for the whole family to enjoy.
Our high-quality True Lemon Extract contains 10% lemon juice solids, offering a genuine lemon taste that eliminates the need for excessive sugar to flavor beverages. Try mixing it with Sprite for a healthier alternative to most restaurant lemonades.
Do not use if seal is broken. Keep out of reach of children.
Food grade dried lemon peel is available here . The peel of the lemon contains a high amount of flavonoids that have antioxidant properties.
These can help to reduce the size of your pores, leaving your skin looking smoother and softer. It can also act as an astringent, removing excess oil and impurities from your skin and hair.
Sources & references used in this article:
Gardening with herbs for flavor and fragrance by HM Fox – 1933 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org
The optimization of lemon verbena (Lippia citriodora) medicinal plant tissue culture. by AA Mosavi – International Journal of Agronomy and Plant …, 2012 – cabdirect.org
Lemon Herbs: How to Grow and Use 18 Great Plants by ES Platt – 2001 – books.google.com
Performance of lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla L.) for morphological, economic and chemical traits in Ethiopia by BM Kassahun, WB Yosef… – AmericanEurasian J. Agric …, 2013 – researchgate.net