I am an herb enthusiast. I love how you can use them for culinary purposes and health, tea, topical ointments and aromatherapy. It seems that people who have been farming for centuries are still around for a good reason today. So I started growing Aztec sweet herbs.
If Aztec sweet herbs were important long ago and are still around today, then you should tell that this is a plant that you should include in your herb garden.
If you are just as excited about herbs as I am, then check how it is growing, you will not regret it.
What is Aztec Sweet Herb?
Aztec Sweet Herbs (Lippia dulcis) Verbensi is a summer-loving perennial herb from the family. It is also known as Mexican Lipia, Bush Lipia and Honey Herb.
Its use dates back to at least as early as 1570. Aztec introduced it to Spanish, and was known as a medicinal herb in Central America – where it grows in the wild – hundreds of years ago.
Being a creeping, low-growing herb, it fits into most herb gardens as a ground cover. Although often grown as an ornamental, it is the same old useful herb that Aztec used for many things centuries ago.
Even if you grow it as a sweetener for herbal tea, you still get more benefits than sweeteners. By the way, it is 1000 times sweeter than refined sugar. Miles are sweeter than stevia.
Watch out though. The leaves contain a high amount of camphor. You only want to eat a leaf or two at a time. Given its sheer sweetness, you might not want to eat too much at once. Historical records show that Aztec people only used this plant medicinally, not as a sweetener, so you want to take a cue from them.
How to apply Aztec Sweet Herb
The Aztec sweet herb is hardy in zones 9 through 11. It requires full sunlight, especially when the cooler months arrive. My Aztec sweet herb was not really happy until it got at least several hours of sunshine each day.
The pH of the soil should be around 6 to 8, although as long as there is well-fed soil, the Aztec sweet herb will give you a continuous foliage. Make sure the soil is drying well because this herb does not like wet feet or even sits in soil that remains moist at all times.
When the temperature drops below 50ºF, the green leaves turn red. Unfortunately, temperatures below 48ºF will kill your plant, so you will need to keep it in a container.
Speaking of, you can grow Aztec sweet herbs in pots and containers. The root system is not extensive and can easily evolve over a contained area. They look good on the edges of mixed-herb pots.
Aztec sweet herbs are usually 12 inches high and three feet wide when conditions are right.
When you plant seeds outside, they barely cover them with soil. Plant a plant of about 10 to 12 inches (or how thick it should be to cover your ground) and water depends on it well, but don’t overdo it. After all the frost has passed in the spring, and you should see germination at least up to 14 days or 30 depending on the area, heat, and soil.
If you want to start your seed from inside, you can do so at least six weeks before you plan to plant outside. Use a mix of good quality seed growing and plant one seed per 4 inch pot. With direct planting, cover the seeds with soil and keep them medium moist with a spray bottle.
Once the plants are a few inches high, plant them in the garden after a week of hardening. Transfer individual plants to larger pots if you are not ready to transplant outdoors or if you intend to grow them indoors.
Aztec sweet herb seeds are hardy and remain viable as long as they are kept warm and dry. To collect the seeds, allow the flowers to pass into the seeds. Pick some and allow the seeds to dry before loosening and storing them in a sealed container.
You can get seedlings easier than seeds, and they have the advantage of maturing faster, so you can dig into those sweet leaves early. Dig a hole the size of the container that came into the plant and cut them about 18 inches apart. Press the soil thoroughly and water it deeply.
If you are not getting seeds for sale, you can take cuttings from the existing plant. For best results, wait until late spring and cut at least eight inches long. Cut with a new stem or branch.
Dip the bottom inch in the root hormone and apply it to the pot with a good quality seed mixture, which is around the right soil pH and texture for this herb. Keep the soil moist until the roots are there.
Plant more plants than you think you will need, if you do not have anything, then you have enough.
Instead of mixing the seeds to grow, you can soak the stem in a glass of water and watch the roots grow. When the roots have formed, take the seeds into the mixture to grow and do not grow too long.
This is my favorite method and if you are lucky enough to know someone with a healthy Aztec sweet herb plant already, consider it.
Dig around the root ball before removing the entire plant and root system. Use a hoe to divide the root ball in half or quarter and answer. Do this when the plant is dormant, or growth slows down in winter or falls late.
Planting in container
This is a good option if you live in an area where summers are hot, but winters are a bit too cold. You can take Aztec sweet herb inside during winter as it will not tolerate temperatures below 46 .F.
The plant looks particularly well-hung baskets, containers or layered gardens and under walls.
Aztec Sweet Herb Care
Once established, Aztec sweet herbs continue to grow through neglect. This is definitely not a plant that needs a lot of attention. In fact, it sends runners as mint, and you can see it popping in places you didn’t expect. Some people grow this herb in containers in the ground for this reason.
As far as fertilizer goes, Aztec sweet herbs do not require much feeding. At most, dig in fertilizer or use liquid fertilizer once a season. Even Aztec sweet herbs in containers and hanging baskets often do not require fertilization, so feed season or twice.
Water well, but no water. Allow the gardens, containers and hanging soil to dry for a while before re-watering. Water the base of the plant, not the leaves.
There is no need to return or cut Aztec sweet herbs. It is a compact herb, for the most part. Just be prepared to drag any runners that grow into areas where you don’t want them.
Sometimes it will grow to only 12 inches long and stretch to an indefinite length. In this case, cut it back into the shape and size you want.
Partner Planting for Aztec Sweet Herb
Aztec sweet herbs are the perfect companion to any herb that prefers similar conditions, especially those that grow with a little height. Try with:
- lemon verbena
Common problems and solutions for growing Aztec Sweet Herb
Aztec sweet herb is relatively pest and disease-free, but suffers from some common issues, especially rust and mildew issues.
Mango Jung is typical of Aztec sweet herb-like luxurious perennials. When the rust is in its early stage, you can see white, bulging spots on both the outside and the bottom of the leaves. Rust tends to attack older plants rather than young ones.
Over time, the white rust becomes yellow and green. You can see that the small black spores are visible throughout. Rust does not kill most plants, but they diminish over time. A bad case makes it impossible to use the leaves.
Use a regular spray of neem oil and do not put water on the leaves. With ground cover or plants that do not grow tall, consider using a drip feeder system or other irrigation.
It is another common ally sometimes affecting Aztec sweet herb. Read our article on how to identify and treat this disease.
Aphids love the sweetness of this herb and bring with it other problems such as sauté molds, wasps and ants. To avoid all these problems, read our article on aphids here.
Harvesting and Using Aztec Sweet Herb
Sadly, many gardeners use Aztec sweet herbs as ornamental, but this is much more than that.
If you are using herbs in the kitchen, use fresh leaves and stems as dehydrating them reduces sugar content and flavor, and concentrates camphor.
You can use tea in fruit salads, some leaves to sweeten the top desserts and blend them into the smoothies.
Medically, tea from Aztec sweet herbs has traditionally been used to treat a range of conditions, including coughs, stomach and intestinal complaints, and menstrual disorders.
Whatever your reason for growing this incredibly sweet herb, it is definitely one to add to your herb garden for everyday and live gardening.
Take a leaf and place it on your tongue and you will experience the incredible sweetness of Aztec sweet herbs.
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Idea Source: morningchores.com