Lemon Balm is a perennial herb native of southern Europe and has long been cultivated in gardens in this country. The leaves are widely used for culinary flavouring and the leaves and flowering tops are used medicinally. The volitile oil distilled from the plant is said to be used in perfumary and also for flavouring.
These hardy plants can thrive in USDA hardiness zones 4-9 and prefer well-draining soil with plenty of sunlight. Once established, lemon balm plants can reach heights of up to 2-3 feet with a spread of 1-2 feet.
Lemon balm is a versatile herb with many uses. It has a refreshing lemon scent that makes it a popular ingredient in teas and potpourri. It is also known for its ability to soothe the stomach and promote relaxation.
Melissa officinalis grows readily in any good garden soil and is easily propogated from seed or division. The seed is small and is best sown thinly in shallow flats in a greenhouse or in a hotbed on the surface of fine soil which is then firmed. The seedlings are transferred to deeper flats when small and, when, four or five inches high.
As a member of the mint family lemon balm also adds a pop of color to the garden with its delicate white and yellow flowers. The leaves of the plant can be used fresh or dried in a variety of dishes.