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Botanical name

Melissa officinalis

Plant Care

Size

Categories

Common name(s)

Lemon balm

Origin

Foliage

This looks rather like common mint, and has a similar spreading habit. Lemon balm leaves have a strong lemon scent.

Uses in landscape design

Lemon balm is ideal for containers in semi-shaded positions.

Planting instructions

Seeds can be sown from spring to late summer.

Maintenance

Water twice a week, add compost in late winter and midsummer. Trim back over grown stems once a year to promote for new growth.

Soil conditions

Likes moist, rich soil.

Uses

Lemon balm leaves have a strong lemon scent. They are used to flavour poultry, fish and pork dishes, as well as fruit salads, puddings and custards.
Medicinal – A cup of lemon balm tea is an incredible antidepressant. It will soothe, calm and dispel fear, panic attacks, anxiety, restlessness, nervousness and irritability. It is an amazing treatment for flu, muscular aches, pains and stiffness, headaches, spastic colon, colic, fever blisters and hyperactivity. It soothes chicken pox, helps high blood pressure, eases insomnia and over stress. Moreover, it helps with heartburn, flatulence, bloating and colic.

Wildlife attractions

Lemon balm attracts bees that help with pollination in the garden.

Interesting planting ideas

Lemon balm planted near cucumbers and tomatoes, will increase the yield and the flavour in both, and even though bees are attracted to lemon balm, other insects don't like it – aphids and whitefly won't come near it.
Plant near fruit trees as this will also encourage pollination and will keep aphids, and whitefly at bay.

Interesting info

It has always been associated with the relieving of melancholy, and is used today in aromatherapy to combat depression.

Propagation

Propagate from existing plants, either by root division or from tip cuttings taken during summer. 
With root division the plant can be divided and planted 500mm apart in deeply dug, well-composted soil, and kept moist until it is well established. Water twice a week thereafter.

Possible problems

Seeds are slow to germinate.

Harvest

The leaves can be picked any time of the year, handle carefully to prevent bruising.

When to sow

This looks rather like common mint, and has a similar spreading habit. Lemon balm leaves have a strong lemon scent.

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