Lemon Verbena

jenn(SoCal 9/19)May 22, 2011

We have a Lemon Verbena growing in a pot for a few years. I'd like to plant it in the side or back yards but not sure where to place it. I know it is sensitive to cold and tends to grow in a gangly form and is often cut nearly to the ground in spring. I'd like to situate it along a path with shorter plants below it.

Does anyone have a photo of a full-size lemon verbena growing among other plants? Any suggestions for growing it in a perennial/shrub garden?

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My neighbor in Watsonville had a Aloysia triphylla fifteen feet high with a trunk about six inches diameter. I took a cutting from what was over my fence and have been propagating it for the last twenty years. Here it does partially frost back and looks a little ragged in the winter and as a result never gets over six feet tall. It does require regular water, I have it on a dripper. I have never pruned it other than to shape it up from the frost burn. It is far from the house in an area of Mahonias and Abelias. If you do not frost, it could made attractive, as my neighbors was. Al

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 9:23AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Thank you, Al. We do get frost here, occasionally a hard frost, but glad to know that won't kill it. Is there a reason you keep it far from the house --- does it attract bees? I don't mind bees myself but some family and friends will run inside so I am trying to avoid bee magnets near the patio. Over the weekend we moved a Salvia greggii that sounded like a beehive.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 12:20PM
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CA Kate

I have a Lemon Verbena that is 6 or seven years old and is the size of a small tree or tall shrub. It is next to the water spigot and so gets more water than I was told it would like. We get the occasional week of cold, but parts of my yard must be warmer since this plant has never died back. Since we LOVE summer ice tea (black Tazo), made with a decent sprig of Lemon Verbena steeped in it, the plant stays trimmed.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 9:19PM
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Bob_B(Sunset 14, Ca.)

I live in the Sonoma Valley and have a lemon verbena about 4-5 years old. Frost kills the stems each year. I cut them back in the spring, and the plant slowly sends up new shoots. They are about a foot tall now, ten or twenty of them. The plant will get about four feet high with multi-stems about 1/2" thick. Wish I could get it to winter over.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 9:53PM
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Our house came with a nine foot tall lemon verbena. As with much of the garden, it's a bit of a neglected mess. I've been trying to prune and feed it, to bring it back to a healthier state.

Bees are really not animals to be feared, especially if they're just going about their business of foraging.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 10:52PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

There used to be a huge one out at the domes at UC Davis, surviving all manner of privation and overindulgence and everything in between.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 11:13PM
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Bees have never been especially interested in mine. As my property is over six acres, much of my garden is far from the house. Although I have a bee sting allergy I have never been stung be a bee in the garden, where they are only interested in the flowers. Al

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 9:52AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Nine feet! Wow...

Westelle since your zone is similar to mine, I'm curious about the actual size (height x width) of yours. About 9 feet?

I'd like to place it next to a path but don't want to have to prune it a lot to keep it out of the way of the path -- I'd rather give it the room it needs, trim only to keep it tidy, and let winter have its way with it.

With respect to the bees -- I've had my share of stings through the years, including a swollen neck from a yellow jacket sting, but I'm not afraid of bees. However, some friends and family are and will run in the house if they see or hear them. Out of respect for them I'd like to avoid adding new bee magnets to the edge of the patio.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 3:21PM
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Hi Jenn!
For many years I've been growing lemon verbena near doors and gates in my garden/house. In these locations gangly is sort of a plus. The idea I had in mind when I planted them was that people would brush by them in passing and release their wonderful scent.
That's worked well enough with the plants I've managed to keep whacked back to a relatively small size, but there are a couple that did sorta get away from me while I wasn't looking. These now wind through an osmanthus fragrans and a camellia by the back door. They look pretty ratty all winter long (but the foliage of their host plants disguises it), and just when I threaten to yank them out in the spring, they push out splendid new growth.
Bees? Never had a problem, and the verbenas are right by the door to the house.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 9:10AM
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CA Kate

Jenn: Mine is only about 5' tall and wide at best. I use a lot of cuttings in the summer for our ice tea, and I think that keeps it smaller. RIght now it is still looking ratty from the winter but will be quite attractive later on.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 12:23AM
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