Lemon verbena should be an herb garden staple for its citrus-scented leaves.
If you love lemon flavor, make room for lemon verbena in your garden. Grown in a pot, this fragrant beauty will maintain a tidy size. In the ground, it forms a luxuriously lemony shrub. Packed with delicious citrus flavor, thinly sliced leaves add zest and aroma to fish, salads, and steamed vegetables. In the garden, lemon verbena benefits from formative pruning. In spring and as needed throughout the growing season, snip branch tips and entire stems to keep the plant shaped and in bounds. Grow plants in light shade in southernmost gardens.
Pick leaves as needed throughout the growing season. Fresh stems release their lemony fragrance when cut and placed in water. Harvest entire stems to use in flower arrangements or to create a lemon bouquet to scent air indoors. You can preserve leaves by hanging stems upside down in the dark and air drying, but this method diminishes the flavor somewhat. For the freshest, most pungent flavor, preserve lemon verbena leaves by processing 2 cups of leaves with 1/2-1 cup sugar in a food processor, mixing until it forms a paste. Freeze the paste in a thin layer in resealable bags. To serve, break off what you need and sprinkle over fruit, desserts, or into tea.