- Author: Toni Greer
Many of you are familiar with the scent from the leaves of the Lemon Verbena. However, what about the Sweet Almond Verbena (Aloysia virgata)?
The scent from the lemon verbena emanates from the leaves, while the sweet almond verbena's flowers are fragrant. The almond verbena has leaves that are larger, slightly glossy, dark green, and with scalloped edges. The lemon verbena's leaves are slender, pale green, and with a point at the end.
Sweet almond verbena's flowers are tiny and white on long spires. They are long-blooming as well as the bloom on new growth. Deadheading (removing the spent blooms) gently encourages continued blooming and can help with the legginess of your plant.
They are native to Argentina and can be grown here to be either a woody shrub or a small tree. It can grow to be 15' tall and 8' wide but can be kept pruned to your needs. Its branching habit is slightly weeping like a Buddleia. They have no serious insect or disease problems when planted and grown outside. That is not the case if you decide to grow it inside in a pot.
I planted ours at just under a foot tall and it has grown to about 5' tall in its first year. My challenge, as the pictures show, is that it was attacked by our very strong storms and wind a few weeks ago. This removed the small branches starting from a few inches from the soil to the top of the plant. I didn't catch it early enough when this happened. Because of that, it's now blooming at the end of the very few stems and the central leader. They bloom at the ends of their branches, naked or not. My dilemma now is whether to prune the few blooms off or not, from my no branches but blooming Almond Verbena!
They like full sun and are loved by pollinators and beneficial insects (which is why I initially planted it). It is also drought tolerant once established, which is great for our parched state. The almond verbena is easily propagated in spring or early summer by cuttings.
While gardening is horticulture therapy for me, looking at my bare, blooming almond verbena isn't what I really think about. I do know it will recover and thrive. Now THAT is how I define my horticulture therapy. If you have a space for this interesting small tree/shrub, I would suggest you give it a try.