Growing lemon balm is an easy project for the beginning gardener. It’s a perennial herb that you can use to flavor teas and to add a wonderful fragrance to your garden. Garden lemon balm is also a great way to attract beneficial bees, as they love the flowers this plant produces.
Lemon balm requires full sun and dry, sandy soil.
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Lemon balm can be grown from seed quite easily. However, you can also propagate it by digging up and splitting plants in spring or fall.
If you do grow from seed, it's best to plant them in the fall or start them indoors during winter and transplant the seedlings into the garden after danger of frost has passed.
In very hot areas, lemon balm will produce better if it has some shade from the hot afternoon sun.
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Lemon balm likes dry sandy soil, but you may find that you need to water it a bit more during the first season while it's getting established.
As it’s growing, you can pinch back shoots to create a bushier plant, and you can use the tender green leaves throughout the growing season for flavoring.
Lemon balm can be harvested all throughout the season. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, but harvest the leaves before the plant flowers if you want leaves that are more flavorful and stems that are less “woody”.
Leaving the plants to flower will also attract bees to your garden which will drastically help your other plants produce more and better fruits.
In winter, Lemon balm dies all the way back to the ground, but it will return year after year. If you live in a very cold area where the ground freezes, it's best to mulch the plants during winter.
Lemon balm is best used fresh, but it can be dried for later use. However, dried leaves will not be as fragrant as fresh ones.
Tie bouquets of lemon balm loosely and hang them upside down in a cool dry place. Even a small amount of humidity may keep the leaves from drying properly.
After drying, you can store the leaves in a glass jar for use all winter.
Lemon balm seeds can be harvested from the plant after flowering. But lemon balm can become quite invasive in the garden, as the seeds will fall from the flower heads and propagate. If you don’t want lemon balm to take over your garden, don't let it flower, or remove flowers before the plant can go to seed.
The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Lemon Balm. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.
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