Features of growing and using lemon balm

Features of growing and using lemon balm

Lemon balm or herb honey

For several years I tried to grow lemon balm on the windowsill; it should be noted that it grew well all year round. The gardeners I knew, whom I told about this, claimed that, apparently, I weeded it out like a weed.

Then I found out that, it turns out, this culture is not very fond of winters.

But in one place on the site, lemon balm plants still took root. This happened, in my opinion, most likely because the planting of lemon balm was next to a pile of manure. So her rhizomes climbed there, overwintered under the edge of the heap, and then in each new season the plants reappeared.

Generic name lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) - Melissa (family Lamb) comes from the Latin word melissa - honey bee. Among many peoples, her medicinal qualities were highly valued, it was not for nothing that the Slavs called her bee, swarm, honey, bee, honey or lemongrass, queen bee, lemon balm, lemon mint, citron grass.

Although lemon balm is credited with Mediterranean origin, it is naturally found in Central Europe, the Balkans, Asia Minor and Iran. In the more southern latitudes of the territory of Russia and the CIS countries, it is considered an invasive plant. In culture, as a medicinal plant, lemon balm was grown two thousand years ago by the ancient Greeks and Romans. She enjoyed considerable respect in Arab countries, where an infusion of fresh lemon balm leaves "... filled the heart with joy and joy." In the 10th century, the Arabs brought it to Spain, after which it began to spread throughout Europe.

In the Middle Ages, the rule of good form among the English nobility was to scatter lemon balm leaves around the rooms before guests arrived to refresh the air.

In the wild, lemon balm usually grows in fairly humid places among shrubs, on the edges of forests, along the banks of rivers and streams. Melissa is now cultivated in many European countries (Italy, Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria) and in the USA. The German varieties Erfurt upright and Quedlinburg creeping are widely known and are popular in industrial cultivation.

Melissa is a perennial herbaceous cross-pollinated plant 80-130 cm high with a highly branched rhizome. Large ovoid leaves up to 6 cm long and up to 3 cm wide (serrated at the edges of the plate). They are located on a branched straight tetrahedral, slightly pubescent stem, opposite: on the upper side - dark green, on the lower side - lighter. The leaves are covered with glandular hairs - glands - reservoirs of essential oil. Melissa flowers are combined in false whorls in the axils of the upper leaves.

The fruit is dry, disintegrating into four ovoid nuts - dark brown, smooth, 1.5-2 mm long. The mass of 1 thousand seeds is 0.44-0.6 g. Their germination capacity lasts up to three years. Seeds do not need stratification and begin to germinate at a temperature of 10 ... 12 ° C, but the optimum temperature for their germination is 20 ... 25 ° C. When propagated by seeds, the plant forms a well-developed rosette of basal leaves in the first growing season (only some individuals bloom by the end of the first year, but the seeds do not ripen). Only from the second year of life, all plants regularly bloom (June-August) and bear fruit.

Melissa is a thermophilic, weakly winter-hardy plant, therefore, in the conditions of the Leningrad region, plants usually freeze. Because of this, it has to be grown as an annual crop, although in principle it is capable of growing in one place for 8-10 years under favorable wintering conditions.

To reduce its sensitivity to low temperatures, it is necessary to select well-lit places for it, protected from cold winds. At the same time, lemon balm can grow in conditions of significant shading, but in this case it blooms very weakly, its plants are less fragrant (the accumulation of essential oil is reduced) and forms a ground mass weaker than one planted in an open place.

Although lemon balm is considered unpretentious to various soils, in order to obtain a high yield, it is still preferable to place it on light structural, rather fertile, slightly acidic soils with moderate moisture. On heavy clayey acidic soils, this culture suffers greatly. With an excess of moisture in the soil, plants are severely damaged by causative agents of fungal diseases.

The strong root system of lemon balm provides the plant with the necessary amount of moisture, so it does not suffer from drought. At the same time, it is advisable to additionally water it with a moisture deficit in the soil during budding and flowering, otherwise yellowing and partial loss of leaves occurs.

A small plantation of lemon balm is best placed at the edge of the site. It is better to propagate it by seeds and dividing the bush, but it is also possible by layering of stems and green cuttings. With seed reproduction, seedlings appear in 3-4 weeks. If the plants have 2-3 pairs of leaves, the seedlings are thinned out, leaving a distance of 25-30 cm between them.

In the conditions of the Leningrad region, it is better to grow lemon balm seedlings, which are easy to get indoors or in a greenhouse in March - April. Seeds planted to a depth of 0.5-1 cm begin to germinate in 9-12 days. After the formation of 3-5 true leaves, small plants are transplanted to a permanent place in open ground according to the scheme 70x30 cm, when the threat of frost has passed.

If lemon balm is cultivated as an annual crop, then some thickening of the plants is possible - 45x25 cm. When multiplying by dividing, the bushes are dug from a 3-4-year-old plantation in early spring and the rhizomes are cut. On each segment, roots and 4-5 buds are required. Such delenki are placed according to a 30x30 cm scheme. Reproduction by layering of stems is usually carried out on plantations of the first year, since there are many creeping stems. In spring, many offspring appear from dormant rhizome buds and underground stems.

For the favorable growth and development of the aboveground mass of lemon balm, sufficient plant nutrition is necessary, it is very responsive to the introduction of mineral and organic fertilizers. The soil is dug up in autumn and 3 kg / m² of rotted manure is applied, and on heavy soils, sand is added. It is better to apply the rate of mineral (NPK) fertilizers (10-15 g per m²) just before planting.

The perennial plant is fed twice - in early spring and after cutting off the young aboveground mass. By the way, remember: lack of moisture leads to drying out of the plant, and excess - to its diseases.

Caring for a lemon balm plantation is simple and consists in loosening row spacings, weeding and watering.

In the conditions of the Leningrad region, the leaves and stems of lemon balm are harvested in dry weather in the first decade of August. This is the budding phase, when plants accumulate the maximum amount of biologically active compounds (especially essential oil). After collection, the leaves are separated from the stems, dried in the shade; store raw materials in dry, well-ventilated rooms in a tightly closed container.

Considering the slight shedding of lemon balm seeds during ripening, their collection begins when the fruits are browned in the lower part of the inflorescence. After the cut plants have dried, seed sampling is started.

This perennial plant is an excellent melliferous plant: from 1 hectare, up to 150 kg of high-quality healing fragrant honey are obtained. Beekeepers are well aware that the scent of lemon balm attracts and soothes bees, which is why they call it "valerian bee". They often plant it near new apiaries, spread the grass at the bottom of the hive, or rub it with juice to attract bees. Some beekeepers practice rubbing their face and hands with lemon balm water to protect themselves from stings.

Medicinal properties of lemon balm

The aerial part of the plant has medicinal value; it contains 0.08-0.1% essential oil with a bitter-spicy taste. It contains about 30 components, among which the most important is citral (up to 60%), which determines the specific lemon scent.

In medicine, the leaves and tips of the shoots are usually used, which are collected at the beginning of flowering. The resulting essential oil is used in the medical, food, canning and alcoholic beverage industries, in perfumery and cooking.

Traditional medicine of many peoples has long been widely used this plant as a sedative, anticonvulsant, analgesic, choleretic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, regulating digestion and cardiac activity.

Now scientific research has confirmed the sedative effect of lemon balm on the central nervous system; it enhances the motor activity of the stomach and the processes of regeneration of the gastric mucosa.

In Bulgarian medicine, its herb is recognized as an antispasmodic, analgesic, nerve calming and appetite stimulant. It has a beneficial effect on the stomach, on the brain, especially in case of dizziness.

This plant turns out to be the basis for teas both in pure form and in a mixture with mint and oregano. To make tea from lemon balm, take 25-50 g of raw materials, pour 1 liter of boiling water and leave for 20-30 minutes. Tea is drunk in 200 ml 3-4 times a day.

Lemon balm infusion is used internally with general weakness of the body, high blood pressure, externally - with rheumatism. Recommended for increased sexual excitability, they lower blood pressure. Infusions are used to rinse the mouth with gum disease.

Dried lemon balm is stored in paper or canvas bags in a cool, ventilated place.

Melissa is included in the recipe for the manufacture of high-quality alcoholic beverages, for example, the classic Russian tincture "Erofeich", for the aromatization of wines, balsams. It is also used in the production of non-alcoholic beverages, as well as in the canning of vegetables - pickling cucumbers and tomatoes, to which it gives a particularly piquant taste and strength, as well as in the preparation of fruits that do not have their own strong aroma.

The use of leaves and young stems as a spice adds a slightly astringent, bitter-spicy aroma to salads, soups, game, mushroom and fish dishes.

Milk and egg dishes (for example, omelets) acquire a subtle aroma. Thanks to aromatization with lemon balm, they acquire a specific extraordinary taste of jelly, kvass, compotes, preserves, jams from apples, plums and cherries. You just need to keep in mind that during heat treatment, the delicate lemon aroma of lemon balm almost disappears, so it is added to ready-made dishes.

By the way, when dried, lemon balm loses its aroma greatly.

Alexander Lazarev,
candidate of biological sciences,
All-Russian Research Institute of Plant Protection

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Other name passionflower incarnate (Passiflora incarnata) — passionflower meat-red.

Passiflora incarnata (Passiflora incarnata). © Matthew Beziat

Description of the plant

Perennial herbaceous thermophilic evergreen liana, up to 6 m high. The aboveground part of the plant can die off in autumn, and resume from dormant rhizome buds in spring. It grows well in the southern regions in the open field, it can tolerate short-term frosts down to -15 ° С. In colder regions, passionflower is grown in a greenhouse or as a greenhouse plant. You can also bring the rhizome of the plant into the cellar for the winter.

Stems glabrous, woody, requiring reliable support. The leaves are petiolate, dense, almost leathery, dark green (the lower part of the leaf plate is grayish). Antennae are powerful, tough, located in the leaf axils.

Flowers are single, large, sometimes fragrant. Flowering from the first year, it is abundant and long-lasting. Flower buds are laid on the shoots of the current year. The root system is powerful and deep.

Passiflora incarnate is an unpretentious liana. It grows rapidly in sunny, windless areas on nutritious, loose, slightly acidic, moist soils. Indoors, this passionflower requires increased attention.

What types of passionflower are best suited for indoor cultivation, read the article Passionflower - an exotic liana "not for everyone."

Breeding methods: cuttings, sowing seeds, root suckers.

Passiflora incarnate is an unpretentious liana. © frederico ferdinand

Using the medicinal properties of passionflower incarnate

Passionflower incarnate is a valuable medicinal plant. Experts believe that only this species can be used for medicinal purposes, but not blue passionflower or tetrahedral passionflower, which are grown as ornamental plants or for the purpose of harvesting fruits.

For medicinal purposes, dry grass is used (leaves, young stems, tendrils, buds, flowers, unripe fruits (up to 5 mm). Alcohol tinctures, infusions and herbal teas are prepared from them, for example, with peppermint or wild strawberry leaves.

For cooking tinctures 200 g of dry grass is poured into an opaque glass dish, poured with one liter of alcohol (60%) and insisted for two weeks, periodically shaking. Take 30 drops three times a day.

If sleep is disturbed, they prepare herbal collection: 20 g of passionflower herb, 20 g of hop cones, 15 g of lemon balm leaves, 15 g of orange flowers. Pour one teaspoon of the mixture with a glass of boiling water, cover, leave for five minutes, filter. Drink warm before bed.

Passion flower preparations have a calming effect on the central nervous system, they are prescribed for overwork, irritability, insomnia, headaches, neurasthenia, states of excitement of a different nature and spasms. Passionflower helps to stabilize blood pressure and improve circulation, and is also a pain reliever.

Vitamins on the bush: features of growing actinidia, lemongrass and barberry

Sweet, tart, with a pleasant sourness, refreshing - how many different tastes berry bushes give us! Gooseberries, raspberries, currants grow in almost every summer cottage. Today we propose to talk about the less familiar to us berry crops that will help decorate the garden and supply the body with vitamins.

Vitamins on the bush

Lemon mint propagation methods

Gardeners use several methods to propagate this spicy herb:

  1. Seeds for seedlings.
  2. Seed in open ground.
  3. Green cuttings.
  4. By dividing the bush.

Planting seeds for seedlings

  • sown in greenhouses or indoor conditions in the second decade of March in containers 7-10 cm high
  • into a ready-made seedling substrate that you can buy at your garden store. If this is not the case, you can cook it yourself. Add coarse river sand 1: 1 to "Universal soil pH 6.5".
  • before sowing, mix small seeds with dry sand for even distribution
  • in the prepared soil using the length of the side of a pencil, push through grooves 1 cm deep
  • moisten gently with a fine spray
  • place the seeds evenly along the grooves and press down slightly
  • sprinkle with substrate and moisten with a spray bottle
  • cover with foil
  • keep in a well-lit, warm place with a temperature of 200.

The first shoots will appear in three weeks. After another 10 - 15 days, the thickened crop can be dived.

Plant the seedlings in special cassettes for seedlings. They look like an egg holder. There are fixtures on sale in various shapes and sizes. One plant is placed in each cell. Before planting in the garden, a dense lump is formed, which can be easily removed.This method increases the survival rate of a young plant in comparison with traditional seedlings.

Seed in open ground

Sow when the threat of spring frost passes. Lemon balm grains are small, for even distribution they are mixed with sand (as for seedlings). The excavated soil is carefully loosened without leaving large lumps, it should be as sifted. The grooves are prepared shallow up to 1 cm, watered.

After waiting for the water to be absorbed, place the seeds, lightly press down and cover with loose soil. Watering must be done carefully so as not to wash. Lemon balm germination - 60%. The first shoots appear in 15 days, after 3 - 4 weeks everything will hatch. After another month, they can be thinned out. The distance between the remaining ones should not exceed 30 cm.

Propagation of grass by green cuttings

So lemongrass is propagated from early spring to late autumn. If you keep lemon balm in a pot in winter, like a houseplant, then the cuttings can be removed in March. Fragrant leaves and young stems are harvested during flowering, in June. At this time, lemon balm contains the most useful substances. New shoots grow over the summer, so they are an excellent planting material.

Features of this method:

  • for the cuttings choose a shoot with 3-4 internodes
  • the lower leaves break off
  • the cutting is placed in water or in a seedling substrate
  • for survival in the ground, use "Kornevin" or "Heteroauxin"
  • before planting, the tip of the cutting, powder with a rooting agent
  • in wet soil, using a pencil, make a small depression of 2 - 3 cm, place the handle and squeeze slightly
  • The "greenhouse" is covered with plastic wrap.

After 10 days, you can determine which specimens survived, they are planted in a separate pot, the size of a disposable plastic cup. As it grows, the dishes will have to be increased to handle the plant.

Lemon balm propagated in this way can be kept at home as a houseplant, and transplanted into the garden in the spring. There he will be more accustomed and will bring much more benefit.

In the open air, bee mint receives a lot of nutrients, grows well and delights its owners with a fragrant aroma for 10 years. During this time, it can be renewed vegetatively. Read also the article: → "Plants for an ornamental garden."

Dividing an adult bush into parts

In this way, lemon balm is best propagated in the spring. The rhizome is cut so that the cut remains 3 - 4 shoots or buds that have hatched... This "surgery" can be carried out in the fall. The resulting parts are planted in a permanent place with an interval of 30 - 50 cm. This method is more suitable for varietal plants that do not retain their decorative and healing properties during seed propagation.

Application and medicinal properties

Raw materials (leaves, stems) in fresh and dried form are used for pickling and preserving apples, pears, plums, cherries, vegetables. Lemon balm is also used as a seasoning in the preparation of various sauces, meat dishes, salads. Melissa tea is also prepared, drinks that increase appetite, improve digestion.

Melissa has long been used as a medicinal plant that soothes the nervous system and relieves pain. From it, a valuable essential oil is isolated for perfumery, as well as for the aromatization of soft drinks.

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A surprisingly light, lemon-cool aroma is a distinctive feature of lemon balm, or medicinal, but it appears only before and during flowering.

Melissa forms dense, dense clumps of straight, slightly pubescent and densely leafed shoots up to 1 m high. A light, rich and bright green color, a beautiful serrated edge and neat leaves only give the whole plant brightness.

The flowers of lemon balm are located in the axils of the leaves, and not at the tops of the shoots (it is by this feature that it can be distinguished from the catnip, with which it is often confused). They are white-pink, nondescript, bloom in July and August. Medicinal lemon balm also has variegated forms, which retain all the medicinal properties.

Melissa officinalis. © Bff

Melissa is one of the brightest green crops, creating rich, juicy spots. Thanks to the density of the sods, it always looks festive, perfectly emphasizes ornamental deciduous plants and forms surprisingly beautiful background plantings.

Features of growing and care

Melissa prefers to grow in the sun or in partial shade, she only needs a well-drained and fertile soil to maintain its beautiful shape. Lemon balm care comes down to simply cutting off the shoots when needed.

How is lemon balm useful?

This beautiful plant has no less calming properties than mint (albeit more mild). Melissa officinalis exhibits hypotonic, stabilizing the nervous system, relieving arrhythmias and convulsions.

It is effective for stomach diseases, nausea, lack of appetite, insomnia, nervous disorders, dystonia, relieves premenstrual syndromes. Lemon balm is also used for inflammation of the oral mucosa.

Melissa officinalis. © Nabokov

When to harvest lemon balm

You need to collect lemon balm before flowering, even before budding begins, and try to dry the grass as quickly as possible. You can cut off all the shoots to the lignified part.

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Botanical sources describe the name of five plant species. Lemon balm is often chosen as a cultural gardener of the garden, which can reach a height of 30 to 120 cm. The bushes are strongly branched and covered with hard pile. Closer to August, inflorescences bloom in the form of ring-shaped corollas. This species has a blue or purple hue. Greenish oval leaves.

In addition to the described type of lemon balm, there are other melliferous varieties:

  • Quadrille - has lilac umbrella-shaped buds and leaves directed to the top, gathering in a rosette
  • Freshness - a bush, the stems of which grow to a length of about 60 cm, is distinguished by white corollas with a blue tint and dark leaf blades. During the flowering period, the plant exudes a sour aroma.
  • Pearl - characterized by a network of branched high shoots and petioled short leaves. The surface of the leaves is ribbed to the touch.
  • Pure gold - one of the shortest varieties. During the season, the color of the inflorescence changes from white to a pale purple tone.

Watch the video: Lemonbalm: How to grow, use and propagate with Morag Gamble