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LEMON BALM


  How To Grow Lemon Balm


PLANT TYPE: Perennial
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Melissa officinalis
ZONE / HARDINESS: 5 to 9
MATURE PLANT SIZE: 24 to 36 inches high x 24 inches wide
LIGHT: Full Sun
FLOWERING PERIOD: July to September
SOIL TYPE: Moist, rich, well-drained soil
pH RANGE: 6.9
KNOWN PESTS: N/A
KNOWN DISEASES: Powdery mildew.


OVERVIEW:

Lemon balm is a lemon scented member of the mint family. It is a perennial which will over-winter in hardiness zones 4 to 5. Be careful if you grow this herb as it can quickly take over other plants.

Lemon balm is valued as a culinary, cosmetic and medicinal herb. Fresh sprigs are used to top drinks and as garnishes on salads and main dishes.

Easily grown from seed; germination is best when seed is uncovered. Ensure that the planting medium does not dry out while the seeds are germinating. Enjoys well-drained soil in full sunlight. Leaf growth may be slow the first year, and more vigorous thereafter. Harvest before the plant flowers, for optimum fragrance. Cut the entire plant about 2 inches above ground. Dry quickly to prevent the leaves from turning black. Lemon balm should be dried within 2 days at temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees F. Place on a wire rack to dry. Store in an airtight container.


PROPAGATION / SOWING:

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


CARE & GROWING:

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.


HARVESTING:

Harvest before the plant flowers, for optimum fragrance. Cut the entire plant about 2 inches above ground. Dry quickly to prevent the leaves from turning black. Lemon balm should be dried within 2 days at temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees F. Place on a wire rack to dry. Store in an airtight container.


USAGE:

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.












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Lemon Balm Tea is made by brewing lemon balm leaves by themselves, adding honey to taste and enjoying. Lemon balm can lend its lemon flavor to teas and fruit and fish dishes.






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