Photo by Carl E Lewis.
Lemon balm attracts a number of beneficial insects to your garden and can also be used in the kitchen. It’s a member of the Lamiaceae family with the Latin name Melissa officinalis. Lemon balm is a perennial plant with 5 to 8 cm (2 to 3 inch) long leaves. The flowers are light blue to white.
Lemon balm prefers full sun outdoors but is mildly shade tolerant. The soil pH can be in the range 5.6 to 9.0, but preferably it should be 6.0 to 7.5.
The height of lemon balm is between 30 to 120 cm (12 to 47 inch) and the width is between 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 inch).
Seedlings are grown indoors from seeds resting uncovered on top of the soil. Keep the soil wet during germination, which will take from 10 to 21 days at a temperature of 21 deg. C (70 deg. F). When the seedlings appear lower the temperature to 16 deg. C (60 deg. F).
Plant the seedlings outdoors after the last frost has passed. Keep the soil moist. In mild climates the stem of the full developed plant will die in the beginning of winter, but shoots will appear again in spring.
There’s a risk that Lemon balm is attacked by Whitefly, Spider mites, Thrips or affected by powdery mildew.
Lemon balm should be harvested before flowering to get the best fragrance. Cut down to 5 cm (2 inch) above ground.
Dry within 2 days at a temperature of 32 to 38 deg. C (90 to 100 deg. F) and store in an airtight container.