Melissa officinalis 'Lemon'
Lemon balm's crowning glory is its powerful lemony smell when its leaves are crushed. Lemon balm is used in herbal teas and fruit salads not just for its extraordinarily delicious taste but for its calming properties. Looking not unlike a mint plant, lemon balm has a bushy but upright habit with bright green medium sized leaves that are oval in shape, marginally toothed and with a slightly furry texture. In the summer the small, creamy flowers are pretty, prolific and are ambrosia for bees.
A balm for the garden and soul
Lemon balm will grow in almost any soil or position but it prefers a fairly rich moist soil with lots of sun but midday shade. In fact it is so easygoing that it can slightly take over if you are not careful and do not trim lightly around the edges of the plant to keep it in check - especially after flowering to prevent it self-seeding. This promiscuous habit can be advantageous should you wish to use lemon balm as a ground cover. Otherwise,it makes an unusual herb for your herb garden but perhaps its best use is to attract pollinators and especially honey bees to your garden. Because of its nectar-rich flowers try growing it in an orchard or close to a bee hive. Lemon balm does not taste good when cooked but can be combined with spearmint to make a wonderful tea. An ancient medicinal herb for longevity, it has been considered for centuries as a tonic for melancholy and aromatherapists still use it today to alleviate depression.
- Height: 60 cm
- Spread: 40 - 50 cm
- Colour: green foliage, small creamy flowers
- Flowers: Summer
- Uses: culinary, herb garden, ground cover
- Spacing: 45 cm
- Scent: citrus/lemon
- Habit: upright/forms a mound
- Life: hardy perennial
The name Melissa is a popular girl's name now but comes from the Greek meaning honey bee and it is for this reason that the plant was called Melissa; its flowers are a real honey trap. The Greeks dedicated this herb to the Goddess Diana and would put sprigs of the balm in an empty hive in the hopes that it would attract a swarm of bees to it. This tradition continued to medieval times in Europe when people planted lemon balm close to hives because they believed that this meant that the bees would not leave. If used medicinally, the leaves should be used fresh or frozen in tea to relieve headaches and to restore memory....