There are many plants with a lemon scent, and most of them are good additions to the garden. Some are herbs, some flowers, and then there are varieties of the citrus fruit.
One to be very cautious about when planting is lemon balm. You put one tiny seedling into the ground, turn your back and you are walled in like Sleeping Beauty in a hedge of towering plants. Well, not quite, but they do grow fast and spread themselves around.
The scent is lovely, and the lemon flavor is wonderful in a sprig added to lemonade or other beverages. You can simmer fresh leaves for a few minutes and freeze the liquid in ice cube trays to add to summer drinks. The flavor is honey-like as well as citrusy.
The best way to control this unruly beauty is to plant it in a container and remove flowers before they scatter seed to the four winds. It will grow in sun or partial shade. In fact, it is hard to prevent it from growing no matter what the conditions.
Another name for lemon balm is Melissa, which derives its name from the Greek for honeybee, and the plant does attract bees.
Lemongrass came to us from Asia and is used widely in Asian cuisine.
Janet Del Turco is a local gardener and a
graduate of the Ohio State University Master Gardener program.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The edible part is the stalk with the lower part of the leaves, when it resembles a green onion. Best eaten fresh, lemon balm also can be dried and then soaked in water before using. It is a flavorful ingredient in Asian soups; it also can be used in salads and herbal teas.
Lemon verbena is a half-hardy shrub grown for its fragrant leaves. It can grow to 4 feet high in sheltered conditions, although in our area it must be brought inside for the winter, where it probably will drop its leaves.
Replanted in the spring, new growth usually will emerge. The key word there is usually - but it is worth a try for the flavor and scent.
There are many varieties of thyme, and lemon thyme is one of the best. It can be used in sweet and savory dishes alike. Thyme is easy to grow, and can be freely divided all summer.
Lemon basil is easy to grow from seed. The bright green leaves can be used in soups, stews and vegetable dishes, and is wonderful with fish. Keeping the small, white flowers cut off will promote leaf growth all summer.
To keep the refreshing scent of lemon in the house all year round, here is a recipe for lemon herb potpourri. Simply mix two cups each of lemon balm, lemon verbena and lemon mint with one cup each of lemongrass and the leaves of lemon-scented geranium. Add half a cup of lemon peel strips and a teaspoon of lemon oil. Add a few tablespoons of orris root or other fixative. Store the mixture in a glass jar or sealable plastic bags for a few weeks to allow the fragrances to blend. Then, enjoy the perfume all year long in sachets or bowls.