Lemon Drop Growing Guide
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Lemon Drop Growing Guide

What is Lemon Drop?

Lemon Drop, also known as spilanthes or the toothache plant, is a tropical perennial herb that flourishes in zones 10 and warmer, but it can also be grown as an annual. Spilanthes is native to Brazil and is now found throughout the world.

How to Start Growing Lemon Drop

Lemon drop requires full sun to light afternoon shade. Plant spilanthes in the spring after the last frost in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0 - 7.5. Keep seed in constant moisture with temperatures of at least 65°F. Make sure the soil is kept moist as lemon drop is a very thirsty plant. The flowers will begin to appear after about a month.

Did You Know?

Lemon drop gets its names from the spilanthol that the herb is full of. Spilanthol is a local anesthetic, which is why lemon drop was historically chewed to relieve toothaches, hence the name “toothache plant”.

Our Favorite Lemon Drop to Grow

Lemon Drop Plant Spacing

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing - 12 to 18 inches

Plant Spacing - 6 to 12 inches

Planting Depth - 1/4 inch

Raised Bed Planting

Row Spacing - 12 to 18 inches

Plant Spacing - 6 to 12 inches

Planting Depth - 1/4 inch

Lemon Drop Soil, Irrigation, & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements to Grow Lemon Drop

  • Moist, well-draining soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 7.5
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

Lemon Drop Irrigation Requirements

Lemon Drop plants need at least 1 inch of water per week. Using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your plants are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Can and water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves.

Raised Bed Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

At Time of Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row or ¼ cup per plant of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

1 cup Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement with 5 gallons of water. Each plant gets 1 quart of the solution next to the plant stem. Repeat every 4 weeks.

4 Weeks After Planting and Every 4 Weeks

¼ cup Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per plant evenly spread around plant.

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

At Time of Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 7.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row or ¼ cup per plant of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

1 cup Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement with 5 gallons of water. Each plant gets 1 quart of the solution next to the plant stem. Repeat every 4 weeks.

4 Weeks After Planting and Every 4 Weeks

¼ cup Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per plant evenly spread around plant.

Lemon Drop Pest & Disease Protection

Insects

Organic Controls

Horticulture Oil
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites, Thrips

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Flea Beetles, Whiteflies, Moths, Armyworms

Monterey BT
Caterpillars, Cabbage Loppers

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Moths

Diatomaceous Earth
Cutworms, Ants, Slugs

Sluggo Plus
Slugs

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Organic Controls

Complete Disease Control
Gray Mold, Leaf Spots, Anthracnose, Powdery Mildew

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Harvesting, Preserving, and Storing Lemon Drop

When & How To Harvest Lemon Drop

The leaves and flowers are the parts of the plant typically used. Harvest in the morning after the dew has evaporated. When harvesting leave about 6″ of the plant foliage and the plants will regrow and possibly yield a second harvest for you before frost. Spilanthes is ready for harvest once it reaches three inches in height. You can continue to harvest it throughout the grow season. Both the flowers and leaves of the toothache plant are good for harvest. When harvesting, use scissors to easily snip them from the plant, or use your index finger and thumb to gently pluck them.

Storing & Keeping Lemon Drop

To dry the flowers and leaves lay them flat on a screen or even a cookie sheet and place in a cool dark space to dry or dehydrate them. Both the leaves and flowers can be used fresh. If you’d like to store them for longer-term use, dehydrate both portions of the plant. Store them in air-tight containers until they’re ready for use.

Come See Our Lemon Drop!

Lemon Drop Growing Tips & Tricks

Culinary Use?

Because of the strong lemony flavor of the plant, lemon drop is not commonly found in culinary use in the West, but many cultures use it as an addition to many dishes and cocktails. It is used to season Chinese and Tibetan dishes. In Brazil, Jambu is their name for lemon drop and they use it to flavor meat and soups. The buds can also be used in cocktails to add a unique appearance and sensation.

Toothache Tincture

To make the tincture, you’ll need 1 part fresh spilanthes flowers, with or without leaves, to 2 parts alcohol (100 proof). Fresh flowers are the best to use here, but dried will also work. Chop the flowers and leaves into smaller pieces and put them into a glass canning jar. Cover with the vodka then the lid and place in a cool, dark place. Shake the jar every day or so for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain, then store into dropper bottles or a mason jar. Shelf life of tincture is one to two years old. Mixing a few drops into water and swishing it is an effective toothache remedy. Please consult physician before use.

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