CITRUS SCENTS

Lemon Verbena     Aloysia citriodora    Family Verbenaceae 
Also seen listed as Aloysia triphylla, this native of Chile and Argentina is a lemon lover's delight.  The highly fragrant leaves make a delicious tea by themselves or when combined with other ingredients.  Use the leaves to brighten the taste of fish, poultry and vegetable dishes or to add a hint of lemon to desserts.  In warm climates lemon verbena may grow to a height of 20 ft, but in central Texas it remains a 3-4 ft shrub.  It is usually winter hardy in Austin, but is considered a tender perennial, so be sure and protect it well or bring it inside during the coldest days.  Lemon verbena grows best in dry, well draining soil.  Lemon verbena should be planted in a sunny location, although afternoon shade seems to prevent the leaves from "bleaching out".  It can be slow to leaf out in the spring so be patient.  It also may suddenly loose leaves on what appears to be a whim, but have faith, with loving care it will quickly be ready for the tea pot again.  The growth habit of lemon verbena is somewhat ungainly, but frequent clippings will increase its bushiness.  Lemon verbena is an herb garden "must have".  In the language of flowers lemon verbena signifies "enchantment".

Lemon Balm    Melissa officinalis      Family Lamiaceae
Lemon balm's bright green clump of crinkly, heart-shaped leaves is an asset in any garden and when its clusters of small, white flowers appear bees will be buzzing, pollinating fruits and vegetables.  Lemon balm can lend its lemon flavor to teas and fruit and fish dishes.  It will survive neglect, but does best in Austin when given afternoon shade and an occasional watering.  Be warned, with too attentive care you will be able to supply all the lemon balm your neighborhood could ever need or want.  Frequent clippings will keep it in bounds, be sure to dig up a piece and give it to anyone who admires it.  It is hardy to zone 4-5 and grows to a height of 2 ft.  There is a variegated form and a lime flavored variety.
Lemon Grass    Cymbopogon citratus     Family Gramineae                                             PV Photo(23k)
This tender perennial is a densely tufted grass with fragrant lemon-scented foliage.  It is winter hardy in Austin, Tx with a good mulch.  The bulbous stems and leaves are used in Asian cooking and teas.  It requires full sun and is drought resistant.  Lemon grass grows to a height of 3 ft, uninformed visitors to the garden may mistake it for weedy Johnson grass, but one whiff of its lemony leaves assures it will never be forgotten.  It is a native of India and Sri Lanka.
Lemon Basil    Ocimum xcitriodorum      Family Lamiaceae
Basils are sun loving annuals that shudder and turn black when the temperature nears 40 degrees. Lemon basil is a delightful plant with light green pointed leaves that emit a heavenly scent when brushed.  Lemon basil leaves are especially tasty when added to rice and chicken dishes and make a wonderful pesto.  Grow lemon basil in rich, slightly moist soil. Prune it frequently to encourage more leaf production.  It seems to flower faster than the other basils, remove the flowers and two sets of leaves below them to prolong the harvest. The blooms are edible and make nice garnishes.  Lemon basil will often reseed itself in the garden, or seeds can be collected in the fall to be planted in the spring. 'Mrs. Burns' is a cultivar with a nice lemon flavor.
Lemon Thyme   Thymus xcitriodorus        Family Lamiaceae
Lemon thyme is a perennial that stays under 1 ft tall.  The leaves are used in teas and whenever a lemon taste is called for in cooking.  It adds pizzazz to vegetables.  Plenty of sunshine and well drained soil are essential for good growth.  It has rather shallow roots that like to be kept cool in the summer, plant it at an angle and place a flat stone over the roots to help create this condition.  One variety has dark glossy leaves and pale lilac flowers.  A gold and green variegated form is also available and adds color to the herb garden.  In the language of flowers thyme signifies happiness and courage.
Lemon Catnip          Nepeta cataria 'Citriodora'      Family Lamiaceae
Lemon scented catnip is a wonderful version of the common catnip that felines adore.  The lemon form makes a wonderful tea. Because it is less attractive to cat guests it can be used more reliably as a landscape plant in areas where felines roam free.  It has soft grayish foliage and white stalks of flowers.  The plants grow from 1-3 ft tall and do best with afternoon shade and regular watering.  Lemon catnip is easily grown from seed, cuttings or root divisions.  It seems to have a more mannerly form of growth than common catnip.
Thai Lime      Citrus hystrix            Family Rutaceae
This small tree, also called Kaffir Lime or Wild Lime, is a probably a native of Southeast Asia.  The leaves have a very distinctive double form which looks as if two leaves have been joined end to end.  The pear shaped fruits are bumpy and very bitter.  They contain little juice.   The leaves and, occasionally the grated rind, are used as a flavoring in Thai and Cambodian cooking.  It is not winter hardy in Austin and should be grown in a pot and brought in during cold spells. It grows best in full sun.  It is a food plant for the larva of the giant swallowtail butterfly although it seems to be less eaten than sweet oranges and tangerines.
 
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