Our third herb for the Summer Herb Series is Lemon Balm! I’m starting over with a new plant this year, so join me now – there are still plenty of plants in the stores. Grab a small lemon balm plant and find a spot. We’ll be posting some recipes later this summer!
Where and How to Plant Lemon Balm
Location: Lemon Balm should be planted in a part sun, part shade location. Full sun will be too much. Mine is planted in a location where there is no sun until about 1:00pm, and after that it gets spotty sun.
Water: Lemon Balm will do best if it dries out between watering. It likes well drained soil, not an area where it will remain soggy.
Growth: The spacing for lemon balm is about 2 feet. It will grow to be about 2-3 feet tall, so depending on where in your flowerbed or garden it’s growing, you may want it to go towards the back of the bed. Whereas some other family related plants, like mint, are invasive and run tubers underground, lemon balm will just grow out from the main root pack you start with. It does still grow quickly and you will need to cut it back to 3-4 inches tall a few times over the summer to keep it at bay. Don't be afraid to cut back vigorously.
It is a perennial, but not frost tolerant. If you live in the south you may be able to keep it alive year-to-year, but may still be required to cover it with a sheet on very cold nights.
Harvesting: Depending on what you’ll be using it for, you can either select individual leaves or cut the whole stem to use. I like to add a few stems to fresh flowers to kick up the smell!
How to Use Lemon Balm
Here are some daily use options:
- Place several leaves in your skillet with butter when cooking fish or chicken. Rub/crush the leaves prior to adding to help the oils escape
- As a mosquito repellent! The plant will repel mosquitos, but you can also rub several leaves on your skin for a chemical free, nice-smelling option
- Add to tea, hot or cold
- Infuse your cold water with a few slices of lime and lemon balm leaves
- Add to your lemonade
- Make a foot bath: in a sink or bucket of warm water, add 1/3 cup Epsom salt and several stems of lemon balm. Soak and count your blessings!
- Add to your flower arrangements
- Add to a sachet/small cloth bag for a drawer or closet