|Melissa officinalis subsp. var.||Lemon Balm|
It grows to 70-150 cm tall. The leaves have a gentle lemon scent, related to mint. At the end of the summer, small white flowers full of nectar appear. These attract bees, hence the genus name Melissa (Greek for 'honey bee').
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Balm (Mellisa officinalis, Linn.). Labiatae. Lemon Balm and Bee Balm. Sweet herb, the Lvs. being used for seasoning, particularly in liquors, and also in medicine. It has a lemon-like flavor. It is a hardy perennial from S. Eu. The plant grows 1-2 ft. high, somewhat hairy, loosely branched, with ovate-petioled, sometimes cordate, Lvs. and yellowish or whitish fls. in loose axillary clusters. Thrives in any warm position, and is easy to grow. Prop, by seeds; also by division. Becoming wild in E. U.S.
This herb can be easy to cultivate in United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. In zone 4, it needs winter mulch and a well-drained sandy soil to survive. In zone 7, it can be harvested at least until the end of November. While it prefers full sun (as described on most plant tags), it is moderately shade-tolerant, much more so than most herbs. In dry climates, it grows best in partial shade. It can also be easily grown as an indoor potted herb.wp
Under ideal conditions, it will seed itself prolifically and can become a nuisance in gardens.wp
It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. It is noted for attracting wildlife.pf
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.pf
Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame. Germination can be slow. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out into their permanent positions when the plants are at least 15cm tall[K]. If there is plenty of seed it can be sown in an outdoor seed bed in April. Plant out into their permanent positions the following spring. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. Cuttings in July/August.pf
Lemon Balm requires light and at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate so it is best to plant indoors or in spring and not to cover the seeds. It can be easily grown from stem cuttings rooted in water, or from seeds.wp
Pests and diseases
- 'All Gold' - The richly scented pubescent leaves keep their bright yellow colouration throughout the growing season, unlike the cultivar 'Variegated'. This property is fully developed when the plant is grown in partial shade. Grows 50cm tall and wide.
- 'Lime' - Used in the same ways as lemon balm, but the leaves have a distinct scent of lime. Grows to 90cm tall.
- 'Variegated' - The new spring growth has attractive yellow variegations. This fades when the plant flowers and in the summer heat.
- Plants for a Future - creative commons text incorporated
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963