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 yield a herbaceous perennial self-sows and bees love it. Plants grow vigorously so keep self-sown seedlings thinned out. Lemon balm is deer resistant, so a useful filler plant for coastal areas. Chop back lemon balm plants by two thirds once the flowers have faded to prevent self sowing and to encourage the growth of new leaves. Lemon balm belongs in every organic herb garden and has been cultivated for centuries as a medicinal plant.
How to Grow Lemon Balm
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. Follow these How to Grow Lemon Balm from seeds instructions and grow some wonderful “Lemony” flavour. Grow in container or contained area of the garden as this plant spreads.
Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Sun or part-shade
Zone: Hardy from zone 5 and above.
Start indoors 6 to 8 weeks before last frost, and transplant out or direct so in late March to mid-April.
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. Once seedlings are large enough to handle, 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.
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