Melissa officinalis. Plant lemon balm seeds and rub the light green leaves for a sudden hit of lemon scent. Use in bouquets to lemon scent a room or brew an invigorating medicinal tea. Lemon Balm seeds produce a herbaceous perennial self-sows and bees love it. Plants grow vigorously so keep self-sown seedlings thinned out. The plants are deer resistant, so a useful filler plant for coastal areas. Chop back the plants by two thirds once the flowers have faded to prevent self sowing and to encourage the growth of new leaves. This plant belongs in every organic herb garden and has been cultivated for centuries as a medicinal plant.
Lemon balm’s Latin name is taken from the Greek word for bee (Melissa), and from the ancient belief that a swarm of honeybees could be attracted to an empty hive simply by placing sprigs of the plant inside. Grow in a container or contained area of the garden as this plant spreads.
Zone: Hardy from zone 5 and above.
When I Get My Seedling Home
Keep seedlings under very bright light to prevent legginess. Artificial lights are ideal, but a bright (ideally, south-facing) room will work for the short term. You may have to pot on seedlings more than once before they go out to allow for root growth. This is done by transplanting them into a slightly larger container with enough additional soil to keep the container mostly full. Keep the soil moist by daily watering and allow for free drainage so the plants are never sitting water.
Do not transplant outside until daytime temperatures are steadily 10°C (50°F) or warmer. This may mean keeping seedlings indoors for up to a month. The plants should not require any fertilizer until transplant time.
Choose a shady spot or a location where plants can be protected from midday sun. Lemon balm prefers a fertile, moist soil in a cooler part of the garden. Plants grown in partial shade will be larger and more succulent than those exposed to full sun.
Pick leaves throughout the summer for fresh use. The aroma is rapidly lost when dried or stored.