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Lemon balm

Melissa officinalis

Balm mint, Bee balm (Eng.)

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Lemon balm is a hardy perennial herb from the mint family with lemon scented leaves. The word 'officinalis' means 'used medicinally', and 'Melissa' comes from the Greek for 'honey bee'. This is a great addition to any herb or medicinal garden and wonderful food for insects including bees.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Summer, Spring
Fruiting time
Summer

Harvesting

Leaves can be harvested throughout the year and used fresh. Leaves and flowers can also be dried or oil extracted for later use.

Propagation

Seed
Sow seeds during Spring and Summer; Sow about 6 mm deep; Germination time about 7 - 15 days.
Division
Divide in Spring or Autumn. Replant clumps directly into new position.
Cuttings
Easily grown from stem cuttings rooted in water.

Special features

Attracts useful insects
The flowers attract bees and butterflies.
Drought resistant
Once established, it is drought tolerant and can even be used in a rock garden.
Pot plant
Great specimen to plant in a pot as this limits its vigorous spreading habit as it tends to re-seed itself easily.
Attractive leaves
Grows vigorousy and the fragrant foliage can make a pretty background in a flower bed.

Geography

Origin
Lemon balm is believed to orginate from Italy, but is native to south-central Europe, North Africa, the Mediterranean and Central Asia.
Natural climate
Cool to temperate

Environment

Light
Partial Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Neutral
Frost hardiness
Half-Hardy

Uses

Medicinal
Externally used in the treatment of cold sores, insect bites, insect repellant (citronella oil), aromatherapy. Used as a tea for digestive problems, calm and relieves stress and anxiety.
Edible
Traditionally used as a calming herbal tea. Leaves and Flowers used in tea, salads and cooked foods, often in combination with other herbs. The extract and oil are used as a flavoring for ice cream.

Personality

Family
Lamiaceae
Flower colour
Spikes of white to cream flowers
Scent
Mild

Problems

This plant is generally diseases and pest resistant, but can be affected by leafhoppers which can transmit plant viruses. If spotted on your plant, spray insects with warm soapy water and spray on the leaves to deter future visiting pests.

Companion plants

Cucumbers, tomatoes, fruit trees

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