Growing Lemon Balm
Refreshing Lemon Balm, Also Called Lemon Mint
Lemon balm is a common plant in the United States but it came from the Old World. What’s interesting about lemon balm is that it is a part of the mint family but is endowed with refreshing lemon-flavored leaves.
In other words, lemon balm combines the acidity of lemon and the menthol of mint for a really unique flavor. It has been around for hundreds of years now and widely known for its many uses in and out of the kitchen.
Lemon balm is commonly used in garnishing beers, wines, spirits, fruit punches, and as a medicinal tea. It also adds a perfect plating ornament to fish or meat dishes and as a fragrant ingredient to your main dish. Leaves are commonly used for salads, marinades or stuffing.
Lemon balm also has some medicinal properties. As an effective nerve tonic, it is said to calm the nerves and soothe anxiety and tension. Dried lemon balm can emit a relaxing scent and often used in potpourris and aromatherapy. For cosmetic usage, steamed lemon balm can be used to cleanse the skin.
Having a lemon balm plant nearby provides many beneficial uses, so why not give a try to growing lemon balm in your home garden? Read on for our full guide on how to grow lemon balm yourself.
Growing Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm can be grown indoors or outdoors. It is also usually grown in clumps. As most herbs, winter can be harsh on Lemon Balm so it will be having a hard time surviving the winter season. In fact most Lemon Balm plants die during winter, but good news is that they will pop up again in the spring.
To avoid the frost, start Lemon balm from seeds indoors at least six weeks before the last frost. Lemon balm seeds develop well when not hindered by a blanket of soil over them so covering the seeds is not necessary. Make sure the soil is rich, moist and well-drained to help develop the seeds fully. Lemon Balm seeds can survive a wide gap of alkaline and acidic pH range, which is 5.6 to 9.0. However, the ideal pH range for growing them is about 6.0 to 7.5.
Okay, remember three important rules: First, Lemon Balm loves full sun but do not let the soil be dehydrated. Second, always keep the soil moist but do not overwater. Third, in terms of spacing, at least 12 to 15 inches apart is ideal to encourage growth. Lemon Balm can grow up to 2 to 3 feet high and spread out as wide as 2 feet.
It can take a longer time to sow Lemon Balm, so be patient. Germination takes about 12 to 21 days and full propagation from sowing will take at least 8 to 12 weeks. Let’s narrow it down. Expect a waiting time of 6 weeks from seeds to plugs, and about 5 weeks from plugs to harvesting.
During summer, expect small two-lipped flower and a delightful aroma of sweet lemon blooms in the air. At this time, the leaves can be harvested. Lemon Balm self-sows freely so cut out the flowers if you do not wish the plants to reproduce. This also helps the leaves grow as they do not have to share the nutrients with the flowers. The lemon scent of Lemon balm attracts bees, butterflies and birds. Some flies and spiders may also be attracted to it. Moreover, it does have a bit of a problem with powdery mildew. Fertilizers are needed but use natural or organic ones to avoid ingesting any harmful chemicals.