Plant Profile – Lemon Balm
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is in the Lamiaceae or mint family of plants. Lemon balm, sometimes referred to as lemon mint, grows between 1 and 2 feet high and wide. Its leaves have a fresh lemony scent. It produces small white flowers where the leaf pairs meet the stem.
This perennial plant is native to mountainous areas of southern Europe and northern Africa.
Botanical name: Melissa officinalis
USDA Hardiness Zones: 5 to 9, can be grown as an annual in colder climates
Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Grow lemon balm in moist, loamy soil in full sun conditions. Bees and hummingbirds are attracted to its small flowers. The leaves give off a distinct lemony scent when crushed. It has a lemony taste with minty overtones.
Lemon balm can be identified by its square stem and oval, finely toothed leaves that grow opposite each other. Fine hairs cover the leaves that capture morning dew to help keep the plant moist.
Like most plants in the mint family, lemon balm can become invasive. It produces a prolific amount of seeds if allowed to flower and also spreads by forming runners. Grow it in a container to prevent lemon balm from taking over your garden.
Harvest the leaves throughout the summer for fresh use. Cut the plant back by about two thirds in mid-summer to prevent it from becoming leggy. It will produce another flush of harvestable leaves. The leaves may also be used when dried.
When used as directed, Airmid’s Harvest salad dressing blends do not contain enough lemon balm or any other herb to produce any medicinal benefits. My products and this herb profile are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.
Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
For more details, I’ve written a post about lemon balm on my gardening blog, The Farmer’s Garden.