Plant of the Week ~ Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm)

Melissa officinalis botanical art
Melissa officinalis botanical art

This week we take a look at another herb РMelissa officinalis, commonly known as lemon balm. This perennial plant is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) and blooms with small, lipped white flowers from summer to autumn with seeds ripening from late summer to mid autumn.

Cultivation & Care

Melissa officinalis cultivation
Melissa officinalis cultivation

Lemon balm is another really easy plant to grow, succeeding in any well-drained soil in a sheltered, sunny position. A position with rich, moist soil in partial shade is the ideal spot for this lovely plant. Once established, lemon balm tolerates droughts with ease and is a good choice of plant for a dry area of the garden. Cutting back hard after flowering will encourage the plant to produce a fresh flush of leaves.

Due to its ability to attract pollinators, lemon balm makes a great companion plant, particularly with plants that produce a crop dependant upon pollination, such as tomatoes and squashes.

Edible & Herbal Uses

Lemon balm herbal tea
Lemon balm herbal tea

The leaves of lemon balm are edible raw or cooked and unsurprisingly, they have a lemony aroma and taste. They are a great addition to salads and cooked foods, lending the lemon-like taste to these dishes. A delicious lemon tea can be made form fresh or dried leaves and it is also great combined with other teas to enhance their flavours. One of my favourites is chamomile & lemon balm. Or if you enjoy lemon & ginger tea, why not combine some chopped ginger and lemon balm leaves.

Drinking lemon balm tea can help calm the mind and can even improve sleep. The calming effect of this herb can also help with anxiety and stress. In the bustling world full of stress that we live in today, what better herbal tea to drink on a daily basis. I recently started drinking this herbal tea and plan to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

Wildlife Gardening

A bee foraging nectar on a Melissa officinalis plant. By Gideon Pisanty
A bee foraging nectar on a Melissa officinalis plant. By Gideon Pisanty

Lemon balm is a great plant for attracting beneficial insects to the garden. Bees seem to adore this plant so planting it throughout your garden is bound to keep the pollinators happy and coming back to visit your garden.

Wildlife & Eco Gardens can help you create a vibrant wildlife garden for you and your family to enjoy all year round. Contact us for more information.

 

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