Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Prune Lemon Verbena

The attractive lemon verbena shrub is so much more than just another pretty face. Delicious, relaxing flavored tea can easily be brewed from its sweet, aromatic, lemony leaves. Stems and greenery can also be rendered into aromatic oil for use in making your own personal fragrances. Foliage can be dried to create festive potpourris. Fast growing and virtually pest and disease free, lemon verbena is winter hardy only to USDA Zone 8, but with a heavy layer of winter mulch and the occasional sip of water, your shrub will return to you in the spring. These plants seem to thrive especially well when judiciously pruned throughout the growing season.

Use clean, sharp shears to prune your lemon verbena in mid-spring. Remove any dead or damaged wood. Cut main limbs and stems back to about 12 to 14 inches above ground level to encourage a neat, compact habit.

Begin harvesting leaves and stems from your lemon verbena early in the summer. Young growth can be trimmed back with scissors as much as 12 inches at any one time without harming the plant. The more you trim, the fuller the shrub will grow.

Cut out any dead or damaged limbs whenever you see them, throughout the growing season.

Trim back any stems that you feel give the lemon verbena a shaggy appearance. This may be done anytime that you think the plant begins to look unkempt.

Prune the lemon verbena very well in early fall. Cut the entire plant back by one-third. Trim new growth completely back to the older growth.

Care Of A Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena requires regular watering and well-drained soil. A 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch conserves moisture, regulates soil temperature and keeps weeds in check. Mix the fertilizer according to the instructions on the label and then apply it to moist soil -- fertilizing dry soil may scorch the roots. Harvest lemon verbena just before the small flowers develop. If the plant looks scraggly, prune it hard in early spring, but leave a few buds on the stems, as new stems grow from the buds. Often, directing a strong stream of water at the plant is enough to dislodge a light infestation of aphids.

Garden Guides