Lemon BalmMelissa has a charming lemon scent from the mint family and is an ingredient in herbal teas and potpourri. Fresh leaves are added to salads, soups, sauces, and meats for a sweet lemon flavor.
The history of lemon balm goes back over 2000 years. It is believed that lemon balm was introduced to Spain by the Moors in the 7th century and the Middle Ages, distributed throughout Europe. Known for its medicinal properties and attractiveness to bees and butterflies, the Latin name in Greek means "bee" and indicates the plant's tendency to attract bees. Roman naturalists recommended growing lemon balm near beehives so that the bees would not go astray. Melissa is a medicinal herb for the treatment of stress and anxiety, insomnia, and indigestion. An old Arabic proverb says that lemon balm makes the heart cheerful and joyful. Melissa tea was served at King Charles V of France and Emperor Charles V. It was grown in the famous Thomas Jefferson Experimental Garden. Today, medicinal herbs containing lemon balm often include other soothing herbs such as valerian, chamomile, and hops for relaxation.
How to grow Lemon Balm from seeds:
- Sowing: To grow lemon balm indoors, sow the seeds on the soil surface about six weeks before the last spring frost. Provide moderate heat and avoid direct sunlight and spray. Transplant outdoors as soon as the seedlings are old enough to be cultivated or after the last spring frost. After the last frost, plant the seeds on the soil's surface and keep them evenly moist until germination for 2-3 weeks. Melissa prefers well-drained or sandy soils and partial shade. Under the right conditions, lemon balm grows well in containers.
- Plant Spacing: 8-24″. Plаnt at 8-10″ if growing as an annual. Plant at 24-36″ if grоwing as a perennial.
- Growing of Lemon Balm: Water regularly, but do not overwater. Mature lemon balm tolerates drought conditions. Control weeds while the seedlings are becoming established. Lemon balm attracts bees, birds, and butterflies; it can become somewhat invasive if left to spread. To prevent this, remove the flowering stalks before they go to seed.
- Lemon Balm Soil Requirements for: Grow in moist, well-drained soil of medium fertility.
- Lemon Balm Seeds Days to Germination: 7-14 days.
- Light Preference of Lemon Balm: Sun.
- Life Cycle of Lemon Balm: Perennial.
- How and When to Harvest Lemon Balm: Harvest fresh leaves in summer and autumn. Lemon balm grows well after cutting, but do not remove more than half of the plant at a time for healthy growth. Melissa reveals its flavor just before flowering. Fresh leaves taste better, although they can be dried or frozen. Dry for two days at a high temperature to prevent mold.
- Lemon Balm Days to Maturity: 80-100 days stem tips; 120-180 days bunches.
- Lemon Balm's Seed Saving: Collect the flowering stems as they begin to dry out and produce seeds. Spread them out out of direct sunlight and dry them. Store them in a cool, dry place.
- Common Names: Balm, Common Balm, Balm Mint
- Latin Name: Melissa officinalis
- Species Origin: Mediterranean, Europe, Central Asia
- Type: Open Pollinated, Heirloom, Warm Season
- Life Cycle: Perennial
- USDA Zones: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
- Seeds per Ounce: 47,000
- Stratification: No Stratification
- Germination Ease: No Stratification
- Sunlight: Full Sun
- Height: 30 Inches
- Color: Green
- Bloom Season: Blooms Early Summer, Blooms Late Summer
- Uses: Culinary, Medicine, Attracts Pollinators, Attracts Honeybees, Attracts Butterflies, Aromatic, Deer Resistant