Lemon balm

Common name: Lemon balm

Scientific name: Melissa officinalis

Family: Labiatae

Uses: Aromatic, cosmetic, culinary, and medicinal.The dried leaves scent potpourris. Lemon balm is used in a facial steam to clean the skin. It also is used in teas, beers, and wine and with fish, mushrooms, and soft cheeses. Fresh leaves are used in salads, marinades for vegetables, chicken salad, and poultry stuffings. It can be grown in containers. Lemon balm is said to have some medicinal qualities.

History: The Roman scholar Pliny and the Greek physician Dioscorides both used lemon balm as a medicinal herb. In the 1600s, it was called

Description: This upright plant has hairy, square, branched stems. The somewhat hairy, lemon-scented leaves are opposite, ovate, toothed, and 1 to 3 inches long. The white, pale yellow, or rose flowers are about 1/2 inch long and two-lipped on axillary clusters. The fruit is a smooth nutlet.

Plant type: Perennial

Hardiness: Hardiness zones 4 to 5.

Height: 24 to 36 inches

Width: 24 inches


Soil: moist, rich, well-drained soil with a pH of 7


Disease: Powdery mildew.

Cultivation: Start lemon balm from seeds, but do not cover the seeds with soil. Make sure the planting medium does not dry out while the seeds are germinating. Plants may be scrawny the first year.

Companion planting: No information available.

Propagation: Seeds or division in spring and cuttings in spring or summer.

Flowering period: July to September

Flower color:


Garden notes: The flowers of this wide-spreading, bushy plant attract bees to the garden.