Latin Name: Melissa Officinalis
Item #: 164A
LEMON BALM (Melissa officinalis) - attracts bees, a fragrant seasoning
24 in/61 cm Approx. 43,000 seeds per oz/28 g
A hardy perennial that maintains a dwarf 12 in/30 cm habit indoors in pots or will grow 24 in/61 cm outdoors. Deep green leaves are heart shaped, deeply veined and roughly textured with square stems. Yellow buds open into tiny white flowers during mid summer and are an excellent source of pollen for bees - which aids pollination of cucumbers, melons and squash. Leaves are harvested just before buds flower. Commercial beekeepers use crushed leaves for scenting the inside walls of new hives to prevent "swarming" and encourage new members to join the hive.
CULTURE: Sow seed indoors in pots as magnolias bloom in mid April or outdoors when dandelions bloom a few weeks later. Germinate seed indoors at 70°F/21°C soil temp. Seed takes about 20 days to germinate and responds to varied temperatures during day/night periods. Sow seed at 4 seeds per inch/3 cm cover lightly with fine soil and firm. Transplant seedlings outdoors when they are about 4 in/10 cm high. Space plants 20 in/51cm apart in light semi shaded area in poor, light, well drained sandy soil. Lemon Balm will tolerate dry areas if you keep it watered during heat waves. By late summer it tends to be a bit weedy, so shear it back after flowering to keep it neat and tidy.
HARVEST: Leaves or stems can be harvested at any time, after plants have established themselves but best flavor and scent occur just before flowering. Make divisions in spring or early fall. As winter approaches, cut plants back to about 4 in/l 0 cm and cover with mulch or leaf compost for added winter protection. Lemon Balm leaves bruise easily during harvesting, so if you are going to dry the foliage for winter consumption - handle carefully.
USES: Great as an attractant for bees, or as a flavored, scented garnish with fruit, poultry stuffing and in herbal teas.