This strongly lemon-scented perennial mint is a subtly calming and relaxing sedative packed with anti-viral compounds. When crushed, the leaves give a bright, floral aroma. Excellent both fresh and dried for brewing teas. Native to Europe and the Mediterranean, this plant has been cultivated for at least 2,000 years. It is also known as Melissa, which means honeybee. It has long been associated with honeybees, who drink from its nectar-filled blooms alongside butterflies and hummingbirds.
Days to maturity: 70
Seeds per pack: 200
Planting / harvesting notes
Prefers partial shade to full sun. Direct sow in spring or fall, tamping down seeds with back of rake, barely covered. Keep soil moist until germination. You can also start seeds indoors and transplant. Space plants 1-2' apart.
Seed keeping notes
Allow seedheads to dry on the plant. Cut the stalks below the lowest seed clusters. If necessary, dry the seedheads further in the sun on a sheet or table away from moisture and precipitation. When fully dry, whack the seedheads in a bucket, allowing the ripest seed to fall. Sift through strainers to remove the largest chaff, and then winnow off the lighter chaff with your breath, a fan, or the wind.
Photo of Lemon Balm leaves used with permission from Kris Hubbard of Wild Wood Farms Heirloom Seed Company, Artemus, Kentucky.