How to Grow Lemon Balm

By on September 1, 2011

By Rhonda Daniels –

Melissa officinalis or Lemon Balm is a favorite of mine.

Melissa’s sweet lemony scent and mint like leaves make it a nice plant to have in the garden. It is both a culinary and medicinal herb. With its mild lemon flavor and scent we use it often in teas and in potpourri.

Lemon Balm is another mint family member and is therefore darn easy to grow. It can be grown as a perennial plant in zone 5-9 and in colder regions as an annual, or over-wintered indoors.

<

You can grow Lemon Balm in containers or in the garden.

It seems perfectly happy in either place. Just remember it will need more attention in a pot- it can get thirsty in hot weather and may need frequent watering and an occasional light feeding. Don’t let it wilt TOO much or it may take awhile to recover.

wilted lemon balm

Wilted Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm may become invasive if you live in moist climates, have a lot of rainfall and don’t trim off seed heads. That may be why many people choose to grow it in containers. I don’t have a problem with it spreading too much in my occasionally soggy, humid Midwest garden, but I usually manage to clip off seed heads before they drop all over the place.

Lemon Balm is easy to grow from seed. Press the seeds into damp soil- but don’t bother covering them. Keep the seeds moist and wait. Germination may take a few weeks and you may have seedlings popping up over a period of two to three weeks.

Flowering Lemon Balm

Flowering Lemon Balm

Once Lemon Balm is growing keep it trimmed back regularly for the best flavored leaves and to keep the plant looking good.

When it sports its pretty little white flowers you may find lots of bees and other pollinators flocking to it. They seem to like it as much as I do! These Lemon Balm flowers will dry and produce tiny seeds.

Want to save some seeds and grow more ‘from scratch’ ?

lemon balm seed heads

Lemon Balm Seed Heads

This is what the flower stalks look like before the seeds within are brown and ripe.

Below the stem has become dried and brown. The seeds are usually black and ripe at this point.

When your Lemon Balm flowers you can clip off most the flower spikes and just save one or two for seeds. Clip off any you won’t be saving before they turn brown and start dropping seeds. That way you don’t have runaway Lemon Balm all over the garden.

To extract the seeds try rolling the dried seed head or each individual dried flower between your fingers. You will be rewarded for your work with a few tiny seeds.

Fresh Lemon Balm SeedsYou can also stick the seed heads upside down to dry in a paper bag. Many of the seeds will eventually drop in to the paper bag relieving you of all that seed head rolling!

Like this? Then sign up for our free Video Herb Gardening Class!

Rhonda Daniels is a retired herb nursery grower and organic Master Gardener. She and her husband along with four out of six of their kids live on a small farm and raise goats, poultry, horses and Angora rabbits. They have the usual farm dogs and cats and in addition to the herbs, they grow all kinds of other great stuff. They also grow herbs and plants for classes, workshops and friends, and grow herbs indoors and out for use in the kitchen and still-room. They use their herbs for teas, cooking, medicine making and crafting… which includes using herbs in handmade goat milk soaps! You can find them at their website at: http://www.growingherbsforbeginners.com/.

Rhonda Daniels

About Rhonda Daniels

Rhonda Daniels is a retired herb nursery grower and organic Master Gardener. She and her husband along with four out of six of their kids live on a small farm and raise goats, poultry, horses and Angora rabbits. They have the usual farm dogs and cats and in addition to the herbs, they grow all kinds of other great stuff. They also grow herbs and plants for classes, workshops and friends, and grow herbs indoors and out for use in the kitchen and still-room. They use their herbs for teas, cooking, medicine making and crafting… which includes using herbs in handmade goat milk soaps! You can find them at their website at: http://www.growingherbsforbeginners.com/.

2 Comments

  1. Clara

    October 16, 2011 at 5:43 am

    I’ve never tried to grow lemon balm, but it sounds worth it. Herbs always have multiple uses and this one sounds like a winner.

  2. Rhonda Daniels

    November 17, 2011 at 11:04 am

    You are so right Clara! I would grow it just for the fragrance, but teas and its other uses are a big bonus 🙂

Leave a Reply

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How to Grow Lemon Balm