I love the flavor and scent of lemon so I always have the lemon herbs growing in the garden in the summer and on the windowsill in the winter.
Lemon balm was my first lemon herb. As a member of the mint family it is easy to grow and hardy in the winter. Plant from seeds, cutting, or division in full sun with good drainage. If planting from seeds don’t cover the seeds with soil, just sprinkle the seeds on top of the ground and keep moist. I used the fresh leaves in fruit salads and in tea. I also included a few sprigs in fresh flower arrangements and dried the leaves for potpourri.
Next I was introduced to lemon thyme. Lemon thyme and variegated lemon thyme add a wonderful lemony flavor to butter, fish, chicken, soup, muffins, salad dressing and frosting.
Lemon thyme is a small woody shrub with tiny green glossy leaves while variegated lemon thyme has leaves of yellow and green. Both are perennial although in harsh Northern climates the lemon thymes benefit from a layer of mulch for protection.
Thymes in general don’t like to get their feet wet so provide good drainage.
Both lemon thymes grow quite nicely indoors or on a sunny porch during the winter months and are an attractive looking house plant. The lemon thymes can be started from seeds, by division or cuttings.
Lemon verbena came next and I loved it for its true lemon flavor and scent. Use the leaves in salad dressings, rice, sauces, marinades and drinks. Lemon verbena is a tender perennial that needs to come indoors during the winter months. The plant is a deciduous woody shrub that loses its leaves in the fall but sprouts new leaves in late winter or early spring. Lemon verbena is propagated by cuttings so purchase a plant or get a cutting during the summer months from a friend.
The next addition to my lemon herb collection was and is my all-time favorite lemon herb…lemon grass. Anyone who has ever eaten Thai or Indian food is familiar with lemon grass. I began growing lemon grass out of necessity, it was the only way I could have the stalks I needed in my recipes. Now with the world becoming smaller I can find lemon grass at my local supermarket, although I still prefer having the herb on the window sill ready to use.
Lemon grass plants can be purchased at an herb farm or garden nursery. Lemon grass can also be rooted from the stalks purchased at the supermarket if the stalks are fresh and not dried out. Place the stalks in a couple of inches of water and when the roots form transplant in a deep pot filled with potting soil. Place the pot in a sunny window and keep the plant moist but not too wet.
Lemon herbs are easy to grow and once you use them you will never want to be without them