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The Lemon Verbena Tales: New Pests and Harvesting Tips

| 9/9/2011 3:57:00 PM

I have been spending too much time on traveling posts and I need to stay in the garden and do a post on my favorite herbs like lemon verbena. I addressed this question in one of my early posts for The Herb Companion called The Lemon Verbena Lady’s Favorite Herb, which included my favorite recipe for Lemon Verbena Bread from my favorite herb magazine, The Herb Companion.

These Leaves Will be Used for Jelly

If you are in the northern part of the United States, lemon verbena is only a tender perennial. I have had it come back in my garden, but it usually does not make it through our cold and wet winters. I have three lemon verbenas in my garden this summer. I must admit to you that I did not get my lemon verbena through the winter last year inside! With a little patience, you can get your lemon verbena through the winter. If you live in the northern part of the United States and if you have the space, you must dig up and bring in your lemon verbena. We usually leave one of our plants in a container all summer long. This lemon verbena in the photo below has never grown very well. It was neglected a bit and overgrown by the old-fashioned rose geraniums. The soil may not be as amended as it might need to be. It is just perfect though to be placed into a container and come inside. We are usually scrambling the night of the first frost to dig and put tender herbs into containers! Please be more prepared than The Herbal Husband and I are! Do it now!

Once inside, a lemon verbena usually (not always) drops its leaves and plays dead. You can dry those leaves and make them into a tea or potpourri. I usually cut the plant back to about one foot just after bringing it inside. It will go dormant. Don’t forget to water it every 7 to 10 days or stick your finger in until you reach that second knuckle and make sure it needs to be watered. You can put it in a southern exposure (where we place ours) or in a dark place. Just don’t forget to water it if it is in the dark.

The lemon verbena that has done the best was where a pineapple sage was planted last year. We just discovered today though that the lemon verbena doing the best is being attacked by the brown marmorated stink bug. Here is the damage that we found on the stem of the lemon verbena.

It may be depositing eggs for next season. The stink bug lays eggs into mid-October. The slits are causing the lemon verbena to produce new foliage, a good thing. We will make sure to cut these plants to the ground though and destroy the stems to limit the stink bug population next season. It looks like there is only one generation in Pennsylvania, but if the temperatures are right like warm spring and summer temperatures, there could be two or three.

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