Information About Lemon Balm
Indoor Lemon Balm Care – Tips For Growing Lemon Balm Indoors
By Mary Ellen Ellis
Lemon balm as a houseplant offers a beautiful lemony aroma, a tasty addition to foods and drinks, and a pretty potted plant for a sunny window ledge. Knowing what this herb needs will allow you to grow it indoors, year round. Learn more in this article.
Lemon Balm Control: Tips For Getting Rid Of Lemon Balm Weeds
By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
It's hard to imagine that such a lovely plant could cause so many problems, but this member of the mint family is super-prolific and can wear out its welcome in a hurry. Read this article for tips on controlling lemon balm.
Tips For Growing Lemon Balm
By Heather Rhoades
While not as popular as other herbs, lemon balm is a wonderful herb to have in your garden. Wondering what to do with lemon balm and what is lemon balm used for exactly? Read this article to learn more.
Learn About Lemon Balm
Sowing Seed Indoors:
- Sow indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in spring using a seed starting kit.
- Just barely cover the seed with seed-starting formula.
- Keep the soil moist at 70 degrees F
- Seedlings emerge in 14-21 days
- As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
- Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
- If you are growing in small cells, you may need to transplant the seedlings to 3 or 4 inch pots when seedlings have at least 3 pairs of leaves before transplanting to the garden so they have enough room to develop strong roots.
- Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding.
Sowing Directly in the Garden:
- Direct sow in average soil in full sun after danger of frost in spring.
- Remove weeds and work organic matter into the top 6-8 inches of soil then level and smooth.
- Sow seeds evenly and lightly cover with fine soil.
- Firm the soil lightly and keep evenly moist.
- Seedlings will emerge in 14-21 days.
- Thin to 12 inches apart when seedlings are 1-2 inches tall.
Benefits of Lemon Balm for Your Garden
As with all members of the mint family, lemon balm is exceptionally attractive to pollinators which is one of the primary reasons I grow it in my garden and happily nurture any volunteers that pop up. Bees and lemon balm in particular have a long history of being best buds, dating back to the ancient Greeks.
The botanical name is Melissa, which comes from the Greek word for bee. In history, Greeks revered bees, which were sacred to the goddess Artemis. They were also associated with the nymph Melissae, who found the baby Zeus and nursed him with honey. The Greeks believed that nymphs could turn into bees.
This lovely herb has many of the same chemicals that are present in bee pheromones, so beekeepers and gardeners alike plant it to draw pollinators to their gardens. Beekeepers will even crush its leaves and use its smell to attract worker bees to a new hive.
You may want plants along the borders of your vegetable garden to entice bees to swing by for a nip and pollinate your veggies too.
Amounts and Dosage
There is currently no official recommended daily allowance (RDA) of lemon balm. The American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook lists lemon balm as a “class 1” herbal product, which refers to herbs that can be safely consumed when used appropriately.
In clinical trials, doses of 300 to 1,600 milligrams of lemon balm extract have been studied. One study found that after a 900 mg dose of lemon balm, reduced alertness was reported, possibly impairing the ability to drive or operate machinery. A lemon balm cream containing 1 % of a 70:1 extract has also been studied.
You can find lemon balm in health stores in the form of capsules, extracts, and oil.
Lemon balm is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It grows best in cool weather. The leaves can be plucked and used fresh or dried. The dried leaves can be stored for one year in a glass jar out of direct sunlight.
To make a lemon balm tea, brew 1.5 to 4.5 grams of leaves in 150 milliliters of hot water. This can be taken several times a day. The leaves can also be eaten, up to 10 grams a day.
Check supplement formulations with your doctor to make sure the dosages are suitable for you.
American Botanical Council: "Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Lemon Balm."
Herb Society of America: "Lemon Balm: An Herb Society of America Guide."
Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research: "The Effects of Lemon Balm on Menstrual Bleeding and the Systemic Manifestation of Dysmenorrhea."
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry: "Aromatherapy as a Safe and Effective Treatment for the Management of Agitation in Severe Dementia: The Results of a Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial With Melissa."
Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy: “Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis L.): an evidence-based systematic review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration.”
Journal of Medicinal Plants Research: "Melissa officinalis L., a valuable medicine plant: A review."
Mayo Clinic: "Functional Dyspepsia."
Mayo Clinic: "Herbal Treatment for Anxiety: Is It Effective?"
Nutrients: "Anti-Stress Effects of Lemon Balm-Containing Foods."
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family that is easy to find and easy to grow (maybe too easy—be sure to keep it in a pot if you grow it outside so it doesn’t overrun your garden).
It’s best to harvest lemon balm when it’s producing flower buds, since that’s when its properties are most potent.
There’s mounting scientific evidence supporting lemon balm as an aide to mental health. Some studies in particular show that it may help support calm and focus.
Lemon balm is easy to prepare as a tea, vinegar, or syrup, and poses little risk to healthy individuals. I recommend starting with 1 cup of tea, 1 tsp of the vinegar, or 1 Tbsp of the syrup per day. Since lemon balm is so safe, you can amp up your dosage to two or three servings per day if you don’t feel a difference right away.
It may take up to one month to see your desired results but lemon balm is strong herbal ally that will support you as often as you take advantage of its benefits.
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And if you’d like more information on the health benefits of herbs, check out Grow your own herbal medicine cabinet? Yes, you can.
Alyssa Humann, CH became a certified herbalist through the Bellebuono School of Herbal Medicine. She is a published essayist who’s been featured on HerbMentor and a copyeditor with Nick Polizzi at the Sacred Science. Alyssa is passionate about bringing plant medicine back to the people through education and relationships. She is a small business owner in Portland, OR where she makes rebalancing, custom holistic healing kits that fit each client’s unique situation and bioavailability.