How to Grow Lemon Balm

This page talks about how to grow lemon balm.

Lemon balm is an herbal favorite among many.  Also known as Melissa, is a member of the mint family and grows in leafy clumps.  Not surprisingly, it’s leaves look very similar to over-sized mint leaves.  Lemon grows between 24 and 36 inches tall.  Lemon balm is frequently used in combination with valerian and chamomile to as a sleep aid or stress reducer, but it also is delicious when added to lots of different recipes.  It has a mild, but noticeable lemony odor and flavor.

Lemon balm is very easy to grow.  In areas with mild winters, it will even stay green year-round.  In areas with harsher winters, the plant will die off in winter and return again the following spring.  You can start it indoors or outside.  Lemon balm grows in warm weather, so plant only after the threat of frost has disappeared. It takes roughly 12 to 21 days for the seeds to germinate, so be patient.

Space the plants 20 to 24 inches apart in an area where they will receive both sun and shade during different parts of the day.  If lemon balm doesn’t get enough shade, it may start to look pale and sickly.  Lemon balm prefers rich, well-drained soil.  Use organic fertilizer to keep the plant healthy, particularly if you plan to harvest its leaves frequently.  Slow release fertilizer or compost works well.

You can begin harvesting from your plant about ten weeks after planting.  In the beginning, try to do so sparingly so that it will grow.  You’ll find that once it gets going, lemon balm grows quickly and you’ll have plenty of leaves to enjoy!

Unlike mint, lemon balm does not reproduce through runners.  However, the size of your crump will continue to increase over time and seedlings will grow from the seeds dropped by its flowers.  If you wish to prevent the spread of lemon balm, adding mulch to the top of the soil should help, in addition to providing extra nutrients for your plants.

Lemon balm tends to bloom toward the end of the season.  The leaves my look tired or change color during this time.  Excessive harvesting of the leaves during this time will impair blooming and seeding.    

More on How to Grow Lemon Balm

Lemon balm loses much of its flavor when dried, so it best enjoyed fresh.  However, dried, it will still smell wonderful and make an excellent addition to a homemade potpourri.  To dry the leaves, you can either collect them individually or in bunches.  If you choose to collect them in bunches, you can tie them together and hang them until dry.

One of my favorite teas is a combination of fresh mint, lemon balm and stevia.   Allow the leaves to seep for 15 to 20 minutes in hot water.  This tea can be served hot or cold and it’s absolutely delicious!  The stevia gives it a nice sweetness without guilt or calories.  Lemon balm can also be enjoyed in other teas or to season fruit, salads, salsa, poultry and fish.  Some people even enjoy lemon balm in cupcakes!

More info:

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