5 Best Lemon-Scented Herbs for a Garden

Lemon balm tea


Madeleine_Steinbach / Getty Images

Lemon is a 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-flavored herbs are popular for teas and cooking recipes. These herbs bring a bright, cheerful flavor to lighter foods like pasta, fish, and chicken, and can make a not-so-tasty tea palatable.

If you want to add that lovely lemon scent to your garden, take a look at five herbs to consider.


In addition to smelling lovely, most lemon-scented herbs also have medicinal properties or can be used as organic cleaning products.

  • 01 of 05

    Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla)

    lemon verbena

    The Spruce / K. Dave

    Lemon verbena is not just for room cleaning and freshening. It is refreshing and uplifting, perfect for making an herbal vinegar for a household cleaner or window spray. 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. Lemon verbena also makes a fantastic scent in goat milk soap. Lavender verbena, a close relative, is wonderful as a tea for stress relief.

    • USDA Growing Zones: Zones 8 and above
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun (partial shade in hotter climates)
    • Soil Needs: loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter
  • 02 of 05

    Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

    lemon balm

    ​The Spruce / K. Dave 

    Perhaps the most well known of the lemon-scented herbs, lemon balm is a juicy, lemony herb that is in the mint family. Luckily, it is as easy as any mint to grow. To keep the roots from spreading everywhere, put it in a pot and then plant the pot in the ground. 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.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 and above
    • Sun Exposure: Partial shade
    • Soil Needs: Fertile, moist soil 
  • 03 of 05

    Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)


    ​The Spruce / K. Dave 

    Lemongrass 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 food, and is used in soups and is often paired with chicken.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 8 and above
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil amended with fish emulsion
  • 04 of 05

    Lemon Basil (Ocimum americanum)

    lemon basil

    ​The Spruce / K. Dave

    Lemon basil 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. Try substituting lemon basil for any recipe that calls for sweet basil.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 12
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Rich soil
    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Lemon Thyme (Thymus x citriodorus 'Aureus')

    lemon thyme

    ​The Spruce / K. Dave 

    True to its name, lemon thyme has all the resinous flavor of thyme, and 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; be sure to try it on grilled fish and asparagus. It can be used in almost any recipe that calls for regular thyme. Use lemon thyme to make the traditional thyme tea that helps soothe sore throats.

    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
    • Soil Needs: Well-drained soil; drought tolerant

Lemony plants are a wonderful addition to any garden, indoors or out. There are, however, many more lovely herbs to consider for beauty, fragrance, and culinary uses. Consider these ideas to plan for next spring:

Article Sources
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  1. Aloysia Triphylla. Missouri Botanical Garden

  2. Melissa Officinalis. Missouri Botanical Garden

  3. Cymbopogon Citratus. Missouri Botanical Garden

  4. Ocimum Americanum L. U.S. National Plant Germplasm System

  5. Thymus × Citriodorus. Missouri Botanical Garden