Lemon is a most pleasing scent for most herb lovers. It can come from a multitude of different herbs, either as the main fragrance or as a delicate note that brightens the scent.
Lemon herbs are popular for teas and cooking recipes. They bring a bright, cheerful flavor to lighter foods like pasta, fish, and chicken, and can make a not-so-tasty tea palatable.
If you’re looking to add that lovely lemon to your garden, here are five herbs to consider.
Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) has a powerfully strong lemon scent. It is fantastic to grow for the ‘clean lemon’ fragrance that it has. To many, it reminds them of the furniture polish Pledge, but without the chemical chaser.
It is refreshing and uplifting, perfect for making an herbal vinegar for a household cleaner or window spray.
Lemon verbena is not just for room cleaning and freshening. Its calming lemon flavor holds up very well when dried, so it stands up nicely in a tea mixture, too. It can even appeal to picky children, and lavender verbena tea is fantastic for stress relief.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a member of the mint family native to Europe and the Mediterranean. Like mint, it spreads around the garden and can become invasive, but it is easy to remove if desired. It is hardy to USDA zone 5 and becomes a 2-foot-high plant with small, crinkled green leaves and tiny white or pale lavender flowers.
The leaves smell of lemon when rubbed and on warm days when you simply walk near the plants; the scent might be described as “sharper” than that of lemon verbena, but still lovely and refreshing. Lemon balm prefers part shade and moist soil but will tolerate sunnier spots..
Lemon balm can be cut numerous times during the season. Keep it trimmed to a reasonable size and continue to dry those beautiful leaves for storage. During the winter, you will have plenty of lemon balm for cooking and teas.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is an unusual herb that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves in North America. This is too bad because lemongrass is certainly delicious. It is a tall, grass-like herb, making it a fun annual to grow in pots. It can then be harvested when you take the pot apart at the end of the season.
To use lemongrass over the winter, freeze the entire thing, and use it as you would fresh, as needed. It does lose its flavor quickly when dried. However, it is possible to dry it, and if you use it fairly soon after drying, it should be fine.
Lemongrass is very common in Asian cuisine, particularly Thai, and is used in soups and is often paired with chicken.
Lemon Basil (Ocimum americanum) is lovely, lemon-scented basil that is an exciting flavor to explore. If you love basil, then you know that lemon is a wonderful partner to this flavorful herb. Why not grow a type of basil that combines both flavors in one?
Try substituting lemon basil for any recipe that calls for sweet basil.
True to its name, lemon thyme (Thymus x citriodorus ‘Aureus’ ) has all the resinous flavor of thyme that we love, yet it also has the genuine citrus scent of lemon in every leaf.
Lemon thyme also has a pretty variegated leaf that adds interest to your borders and container herb gardens. It is one of those herbs that tastes as great as it looks.
The pronounced and cheerful lemon flavor adds a unique touch to your summer dishes, and wait until you try it on grilled fish and asparagus. It can be used in almost any recipe that calls for regular thyme. Lemon thyme is a great way to make the traditional thyme tea that helps soothe sore throats.
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