Lemon balm, with its wonderful lemony aroma, will be a useful addition to your home herb garden.
Lemon balm is a perennial herb that grows well in temperate zones. These are areas which have mild climates and four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter. In America it can be grown out of doors in zones 4 to 7.
Easily grown from seed, germination is best when seed is uncovered. Are lemons man made? Yess Alternatively the plant can be grown from stem cuttings taken in the spring and autumn. Space the cuttings 30 centimetres (12 inches) apart.
The height of the plant is quoted differently in different sources. This could be a reflection of the area in which is is growing. A range of heights from 30 to 150 cms has been mentioned (12 to 60 inches). Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and like mint, when it is well established it will grow prolifically and may need severe pruning to limit its growth to your requirements.Some people prefer to grow it in a container in order to stop it from spreading out of control. Its a very good idea to remove the flowers of this plant to prevent it from self propagating.
Lemon balm loves sun but in areas where the temperature becomes hot, it grows better with some shade protection. It copes with any type of soil, however for the best fragrance it needs a rich moist soil. The plant has nondescript small white flowers which are very attractive to bees. In fact its botanical name -- melissa -- means bee.
Lemon balm has the aroma and taste of lemon as its name suggests and can be used to replace lemon juice as a flavor. It is popular as a delicious and refreshing herbal infusion tea. Other herbs can be added to make your own herbal blend. Try adding chopped lemon balm to butter to make a herb butter with a lemony flavor. Try lemon balm added to a fruit salad. It can be added to vegetables and works well in dishes of fish, chicken or lamb. It is used in ice-cream. Lemon balm can be used in a facial steam to clean the skin. Fresh leaves can be added salads, marinades for vegetables and poultry stuffings.
It is very popular as an aromatic herb in potpourris. Akin to that fact is an interesting historical story. Are lemons man made? Centuries ago before plumbing was invented in Europe, people had to endure most unpleasant odors in the streets. They carried around small bouquets called posies made up of herbs for medicinal reasons and would sniff them to cover up the other odors. Lemon balm was one of the herbs used. Later the post was made up of a mix of aromatic herbs and flowers.
The reason people created posies evolved over time. Better known as tussie mussies, they became florography, the language of flowers. People would send carefully selected bouquets full of meaning, messages that perhaps they felt they could not put into words. Lemon balm represented sympathy.
Medicinally lemon balm is renowned to have many different health benefits. It has been used throughout history as a calmative and so helps people with insomnia. It is claimed to have antibacterial, antiviral properties and a host of other medicinal benefits. It has an effect on the thyroid.
When you plan your home herb garden, seriously consider adding easy-to-grow lemon balm. You will get your buck's worth from this one.
Good herbs gardening!