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 container or contained area of the garden as this plant spreads. Continue reading below for some of our top tips on how to grow lemon balm from seed.
Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Sun or part-shade
Zone: Hardy to Zone 5
Start indoors 6 to 8 weeks before last frost, and transplant out or direct sow once day time temperatures are steadily above 10°C (50°F).
Barely cover the tiny seeds. Use a sterilized potting soil, and keep watering to an absolute minimum – just enough to keep the medium from drying out. Germination takes 10-14 days. Transplant at a spacing of 45cm (18″) into the garden.
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.