Aloysia citrodora

Aloysia citrodora: cultivation and properties of lemon verbena

Aloysia citrodora (lemon verbena) herb is an aromatic and medicinal plant with a scent very similar to that of lemon balm, which is a characteristic intense note of lemon. We easily hear it mentioned with other names such as “lemon Beebrush”, “Lippiatriphylla”, “herb Louisa” or verbena triphylla, but also “aloysiacitriodora” and “lippia citriodora”.

It is an interesting species both for its aroma and for its properties, so it is worth considering the possibility of planting a seedling in the garden or even in pots if we want to grow it on the balcony.

The cultivation of this perennial plant is very simple, its main problem can be represented by the cold, so in the gardens of northern Italy, it will be necessary to think about winter coverings. We discover below the necessary precautions to maintain lemon verbena with natural methods, typical of organic farming.

The lippia citriodora plant

The botanical names of lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora) are two, equally valid: Lippia citriodora and Aloysia citriodora, and it is a multi-year deciduous species that belongs to the Verbenaceae family.

The woody stem grows up to a maximum of 2 meters, rarely 2.5. The leaves are long and lanceolate, light green and above all with an intense aroma and the flowers are small, gathered in terminal panicles.

Suitable climate

Aloysia citrodora (lemon verbena) loves mild temperatures and the sun, so the best conditions are found in southern and central Italy, while areas characterized by winter cold can be penalized.

In these cases, it is essential to repair the plant before the frosts, even if only with a simple non-woven fabric with which to wrap them.

Sowing and transplanting of aloysia citrodora

To sow Aloysia citrodora (lemon verbena) in seedbeds, it is necessary to start in late spring, in the absence of any risk of cold return. However, if you want to grow a single specimen to be included in the mixed herb bed, or a corner of the garden, or even on the balcony, it is more practical to buy a plant already developed by a nurseryman and then possibly use that to obtain new individuals by cutting, which, as we will see, is a simple and faster method of propagation than starting from the seed.

Grow lemon beebrush

Even if the lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora) is a fairly rustic species and of simple organic cultivation, it is important to dedicate some care to it, to keep it healthy and luxuriant.

How and how much to water

Irrigation must be regular but without excess: too much water causes stagnation of water that causes the roots to suffer, and consequently, the leaves begin to turn yellow.

The yellowing of the leaves in the Aloysia citrodora (lemon verbena) can have various causes: excess water may be due to root rot due to stagnation or to some lack of nutrition, which is resolved by fertilizing.

Fertilization

When we go to plant the Aloysia citrodora (lemon verbena) in the vegetable garden, it is good to carry out basic fertilization, using compost or mature manure. This is useful to supply the substances useful for the harmonious growth of the plant, and also to amend the soil by incorporating organic substance that improves its physical characteristics.

In addition to the fertilization to be done at the transplant, every year in spring it is useful to give new nourishment. For example, we can spread handfuls of manure in pellets or other self-produced compost or mature manure under the plant.

Organic treatments against insects

Lemon verbena is a fairly resistant plant to parasites, aided by the high content of essential oils of its leaves. However, occasional attacks by aphids can occur, visible in dense colonies on the leaves, which remain deformed and sticky due to their honeydew. In these cases, we can spray the plant with soft potassium soap or simple Marseille soap (natural, without the addition of various additives for soaps) diluted well in water. The problem should be resolved within a few days, otherwise, the operation must be repeated.

Prune the branches

Since this is a perennial plant, it is legitimate to ask whether a pruning of the lemon verbena should be practiced. In reality, it is sufficient to remove any dry or damaged branches, while during the summer the plant receives periodic clipping when it is cut off for use. However, aesthetic pruning can be practiced to keep the shrub of the desired shape, compact and tidy.

Cutting of lemon verbena

During the summer, you can cut branches of 8-10 cm from a particularly beautiful and resistant specimen of lemon verbena and make cuttings. The cutting technique is the same for various aromatic perennials: the cut branches are placed to root in containers filled with soil, which must be kept constantly humid but not soaked in water. During the autumn-winter period, the pots will be sheltered in the greenhouse-seedbed and finally, in the spring the new plants will have roots and can thus be transplanted in the final place.

Growing louisa in pots

The cultivation of lemon verbena in pots is an excellent solution for environments characterized by a cold climate because in anticipation of winter it is possible to move the pot to more sheltered points, even in a greenhouse or behind a French window. or wrap them with non-woven fabric. In the summer, however, the plant benefits from a very illuminated position.

For the cultivation in pots remember to top up the earth every year and add some organic fertilizer, evaluate repotting in larger containers bearing in mind the size of the plant and irrigate regularly.

Collect and use Louisa leaves

The leaves of the Louisa herb (Aloysia citrodora) can be collected and used as aromatic herbs to flavor dishes with lemon. The important thing is not to overdo the doses because its strong flavor could cover that of the dish itself. Of game meat dishes, lemon verbena softens the sourness, and it can also be ground into fruit salads and salads, as is often done with mint and lemon balm.

In addition, lippia is also a medicinal plant: lemon verbena packs help to soothe swollen or red eyes.

We can also dry lemon verbena: to have dry leaves that perfume the environment, the ideal time for harvesting is the height of summer when they are more aromatic and we can dry them in a ventilated and shady place.


You may be interested to read about the Echinacea blogpost/ Marigold cultivation blogpost/ Chervil and its cultivation blogpost/ Grow thistles blogpost/ Borage cultivation blogpost/ Grow dill blogpost/ Wild garlic blogpost/ Tarragon Estragon (garden spices) blogpost/ Grow garden cress blogpost/ Growing turmeric blogpost/ Black cake recipe.

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