Lemon Verbena -- invasive??

dancinglemons(7B VA)April 26, 2009

Hello all,

I have just planted an 11 gallon container with lemon verbena, thyme and tarragon. Will the lemon verbena take over like a mint plant?? Should I put the verbena in a container alone?? I am Central Virginia Zone 7.



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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Do you have lemon verbena, Aloysia tryphylla, or lemon balm, Melissa officinalis? Lemon verbena is a frost tender small shrub and is not invasive. Lemon balm is a hardy member of the mint family and spreads by seed and side shoots. However, it is easy to keep within bounds by removing seedlings and side shoots. I can't visualise what an 11 gallon container looks like but it sounds pretty big. I shouldn't think you'll have a problem for a couple of years.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 8:23AM
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Lemon verbena is a large shrub in my part of the world - I call it a baby tree. And even here in the subtropics, it will die right down in winter. At that time, I cut mine right back almost to soil level as soon as it begins to lose its leaves, and it always comes back early in spring. Even with such heavy pruning, it's a sprawling, gangly, untidy-looking shrub, but I think it's pretty.

I hope you have the real French Tarragon, and haven't been fobbed off with the Russian imposter, as happens so often. The French one is well-behaved - the Russian one is a thug, and virtually useless. You'll find out soon enough! The Russian one self-seeds, the French one doesn't.

Your thyme could be the one to take over. It's usually well-behaved, but if any of the lower branches touches the soil, it could produce roots - hence a new plant. This is a good thing with thyme - you've always got babies coming along, even though the mother will die (or begin to look very tired) after 2-3 years. I suggest encouraging the plant(s) to propagate by layering - just pin the branch down gently in contact with the soil, using a bent piece of wire. You can encourage it to grow roots by giving it a gently little rub on the underside with some sandpaper.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 3:45AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

OK Daisy - large shrub/tree. I've only ever seen pampered ones in pots over here. I'm still wondering if the OP actually has lemon BALM. Why would s/he think lemon VERBENA might be invasive? I don't recall ever seeing any reference to that but I have seen the common names of the two plants confused quite often.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 6:55AM
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Yes, Flora. And to complicate things even further, she might even have Vervain (Verbena officinalis), often also called verbena! Which can be very invasive.

But I agree - she probably has lemon balm.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 5:51PM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

Thanks everybody!!

I called the telephone number on the plant tag and I actually have lemon verbena. Seems this grower had lots and lots of requests for the lemon verbena several years ago and this year is the first time they had enough to sell. The guy at the garden center is the one who told me to be careful because the verbena might be invasive. I was not able to find any info on the web about it being invasive so I came to this herb forum to get the correct info. The tarragon is French tarragon from a cutting -- same grower as verbena so I asked if was true French tarragon. The thyme is a lemon thyme and I used a small amount with some chicken - I am going to like this thyme.

Again, thanks one and all!!!!!!


    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 1:07AM
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Good for you, and it is good for you too.
Thank you too, dancinglemons

It is easy to tell what you got; If the leaves are elaongated oval (similar to ash tree leaves) then it is lemon verbena. I found this out by a short Googling.

It sounds like a more interesting herb than Lemon Balm, which I have. LB is invasive by way of producing lots of seeds scatered by wind. But in none of the internet sources ,that I checked briefly, it is stated LV as being invasive.
Invasive is a loos term. Normally if a plant propagates in such a way that is difficuly to prevent it, it is economically harmful, then it is invasive. But I wouldn't conside, e.g. LB in that category, because it can be controlled easily; 1- by cutting flowers,
2- by pulling its seeding, as we do with tens of weeds.

I would want to have a Lemon Verbena, even if it was proliferic. I will check with Pikes tomorrow.

Thanks for bringing this up. I personally benefitted from it.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 3:45AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I still have a niggling doubt about the id of this plant. If you live in z7 I doubt lemon verbena would survive the winter so I don't know how it could become invasive. Unless the nursery gives you the botanical name, rather than a common name, they too could be guilty of a misidentification. Alternatively you DO have lemon verbena but the garden centre person is confused and has given you advice relating to lemon balm. Can you show us a picture of the plant and all will be clarified?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 2:55PM
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I too am not happy with the advice given to you by the guy at the nursery. Just the fact that he called it 'verbena', instead of 'lemon verbena', gives cause for concern!

Take a look at some pix of lemon verbena, and let us know if that's what you've got. I've never heard of lemon verbena becoming invasive.

Here is a link that might be useful: lemon verbena

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 7:55PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I have lemon verbena in zone 9 and can confirm it is not invasive. It is a perennial, lives outside in the garden and does die back in what passes for winter around here (hey, no complains from me). It smells delightful and I love it! The scent stays strong even after it is dried. I had to google to find out what it was, it existed here before it was my garden.

I also have lemon balm which I grew from seed, they are very different plants one from the other.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 4:03PM
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