How to Grow Lemon Balm Plants

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About Growing Lemon Balm Plants in Your Herb Garden

Lemon Balm is an easy-to-grow perennial herb. As its name suggests, it gives off a lemony scent in the herb garden. The scent is easily released from the leaves, even by lightly brushing by the plant. The edible leaves have a lemony flavor, too. Native to Asia and the Mediterranean region, Lemon Balm feels right at home in full sun, or in a lightly shaded area of your garden. We recommend growing Lemon Balm plants right near your kitchen window. It is the perfect location. The plant’s lemony scent will waft into your kitchen on a gentle breeze.

Lemon Balm plants are very aggressive and grow like weeds. We recommend containing them with a border edging around the plants, dug about 6-8 inches below the soil.

Bees are attracted to the flowers.

In addition to culinary uses, try Lemon Balm in potpourris and sachets.

Plant height: 10 to 18 inches tall.

Hardiness Zones: 4 – 9

Perennial, Melissa Officinalis

Medicinal and Culinary Uses

Medicinal Uses: 

Lemon Balm is used medicinally for many things, including:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Fights cancers
  • Fights STDs
  • Heart health, protecting against heart attacks and strokes
  • Improve mental cognition
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Helps manage diabetes by lowering blood sugars
  • Skincare and to treat acne

Main Culinary Uses:

Lemon Balm flavors sauces, salads, soups, teas, stews, and meat dishes. It can be used to flavor teas and fruit punches.

Lemon Balm Plant Propagation

Lemon Balm is grown from seed. We recommend an early, indoor start. If planted outdoors, the tiny seeds can easily wash out of the soil in a spring rain.

For outdoor starts, sow seeds and barely cover with soil. The seeds need light to germinate. Water lightly, to avoid washing seeds out of the soil, or down too deep into the soil

For indoor starts, sow seeds 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting them outdoors. Also, we recommend a heated germination mat, for faster, more successful germination. 

Lemon Balm is also commonly grown by division of the roots. Left unattended, this aggressive plant will do just fine, rapidly spreading its roots into other areas of the garden or lawn. Also, Lemon Balm can can be propagated by cuttings.

Final Plant Spacing:  Space seedlings, or thin plants to 18″ apart in rows 12 inches apart.

Days to Germination: 10 – 14 days.

How to Grow Lemon Balm Plants

The plants are very easy to grow. The plants prefer full sun to light shade, and moist, slightly rich soil. They also do well in average soils.

Final Plant Spacing: Space seedlings or thin plants 24″ apart, in rows two feet apart. They will quickly grow and spread if allowed. They will tolerate a little crowding.

Lemon Balm plants prefer moist soil. Water plants during dry periods, at least once a week.

Add a general-purpose fertilizer once a month during the growing season.

Flowers go to seed quickly. Aggressively cut back plants to promote lush, new growth.

Harvest leaves when young and tender. To preserve leaves, dry them immediately. Then, put dried leaves in a sealed container, to retain their flavor.

Ideal pH: 5. 0 – 7.0

Insect and Plant Disease Problems

Insect and disease problems are uncommon.

Also see: 

Plant Problems – causes and cures

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